This weekend Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) announced a comprehensive legislative package that seeks to recover salmon throughout the Pacific Northwest, update our outdated energy infrastructure, and invest in community infrastructure needs throughout Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. This package includes a substantial increase in funding for salmon habitat restoration and authorizes the removal of the four lower Snake River dams.
“Rep. Simpson’s legislative package is the start of a much-needed, long overdue conversation about the future of salmon and sustainable energy in the Northwest," said Robb Krehbiel, representative for Northwest Programs at Defenders of Wildlife.
Importantly, Congressman Simpson included several key infrastructure investments to replace the services formerly provided by the dams, such as energy production, transportation and irrigation. This is an opportunity to bring Northwest communities and decision-makers together to achieve the largest salmon restoration in history, while striving to honor treaties with Tribes, invest in agricultural industry and support struggling fishing businesses and communities from the coast to the Rockies.
This legislative package is the first legislative effort of its kind to provide a vision for infrastructure throughout the Northwest that looks at removing the four federal lower Snake River dams. One provision in the package is to provide funding for removing the earth portions of all four federal dams on the lower Snake River, which is vitally important to recovering endangered salmon and saving critically endangered southern resident orcas.
Removing these dams is one of the most impactful and immediate steps that can be taken to save these species from extinction. The package also proposes other recovery efforts for salmon and habitat conservation in the Columbia Basin, along the coast, and in the Salish Sea.
"Our endangered southern resident orcas and salmon need bold action to avoid extinction, from removing the lower Snake River dams to restoring habitat throughout Puget Sound and the Salish Sea. Defenders of Wildlife looks forward to working with Congress to build a future that recovers endangered species, honors tribes and supports rural communities," said Krehbiel about the package.
Endangered southern resident orcas, salmon and steelhead populations have dwindled across the Northwest for decades. Should the provisions in Rep. Simpson’s package be adopted, there would be an extensive plan for salmon restoration, benefiting important salmon runs throughout the southern resident orcas’ range. Southern resident orcas are critically endangered due to a number of threats including a lack of salmon, their main source of prey.