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southern resident
Hysazu Photography
southern resident
Hysazu Photography

In an exciting announcement for the Pacific Northwest, US Congressman Mike Simpson (R-ID) has released a plan outlining the steps for the biggest salmon and river restoration effort in history: a free-flowing Lower Snake River.  A healthy river means more Chinook salmon, which means more food for endangered Southern Resident orcas!

 “We are thrilled to see a concrete plan come together for the bold, inclusive changes needed to move us away from the status quo,” said Colleen Weiler, WDC’s Jessica Rekos Fellow for Orca Conservation.  “This is an opportunity to make big changes that support salmon and Southern Resident orca recovery, while ensuring stability for the people of the Pacific Northwest.  We know our elected leaders are deeply invested in salmon and a healthy environment, and we urge them to start the work needed to make this plan a reality.”

Southern resident orca

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Restoring a river and moving from a dammed, heavily-developed system to a free-flowing river is a lot of work and will require a team effort from the Pacific Northwest Congressional delegation. They will work alongside state officials, Northwest Tribes, and other stakeholders.  

Representative Simpson’s plan outlines the major investments in watershed restoration needed for the Columbia Basin, Puget Sound, and the Washington Coast, and includes removal of the four Lower Snake River dams.  The actions include everything from increasing clean energy production and storage to improvements in water quality and habitat restoration, and recognizes the changes necessary to help transition communities and economies that depend on the Snake River.  The plan also honors the promises made to Northwest Tribes by upholding their rights to access fish, and strengthens their ongoing leadership in protecting these important salmon.

WDC has been working with many conservation groups and stakeholders in the Pacific Northwest to restore the lower Snake River and ensure that the benefits to Southern Resident orcas are considered in the process.  While the Snake River dams have been discussed and debated for decades, this is the first plan to bring together all the pieces needed for a comprehensive solution, and our region’s best chance to restore wild salmon to a healthy abundance in the Columbia River Basin.

We’re thrilled to see this effort and we’re eager to move things forward as soon as possible to make this a reality.  A healthy, free-flowing Snake River means a future that supports the many diverse communities that rely on the watershed and its once-abundant salmon, communities that include the Southern Resident orcas.

We’re encouraging our Pacific Northwest leaders to get started on this process and make it the best it can be for the future of salmon, orcas, and the Pacific Northwest – and we will have actions for you to take soon!  This work would not be possible without the many concerned voices speaking up for salmon and Southern Resident orcas, and we can’t wait to share more exciting news on this effort with you! Sign up below to get the latest updates.

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Southern Resident orcas are the most well-known and beloved community of orcas in North America, and have even reached the hearts and minds of people around the world.  This special group of orcas is unique – they have their own way of living, communicating, and of course their own favorite food: Chinook salmon.

When you sign up to be an Orca Hero, you’ll join our group of dedicated Southern Resident advocates, ready to be called into action when there’s an opportunity to reach out to decision-makers.  We’ll share the latest Southern Resident updates with you, and ideas for changes you can make to help orcas, salmon, and their ocean home.  And, you just might get a special thank you gift from us for taking that extra step.

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