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Northwest elected leaders to assess breaching the Snake River dams

Southern Resident Orcas

Southern Resident orcas need Snake River salmon, and a new announcement from key elected officials in the Pacific Northwest moves us one important step closer to restoring this critical source of food for these endangered orcas.  This announcement follows years of campaigning by conservation groups including WDC, and a landmark proposal earlier this year by Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson.

SRO campaign dam

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Details of the announcement:

Washington Governor Jay Inslee and Senator Patty Murray have announced a fast-tracked regionwide assessment of breaching the four Lower Snake River dams.  This joint state and federal process will identify the specific details of breaching the dams and how to replace the services they provide.  Both Governor Inslee and Senator Murray have recognized the crisis facing Snake River salmon and the need for urgent action and have set a deadline of July 2022.

How this affects Southern Resident orcas:

The Southern Residents rely on salmon from multiple rivers throughout the Pacific Northwest and California at different times of the year.  Snake River spring Chinook salmon are an essential source of food in the late winter and early spring to sustain the orcas through the winter months, and research has indicated that a lack of sufficient food at this time leads to high rates of miscarriage in the Southern Resident community.  Increasing the abundance of Snake River Chinook salmon is a vital piece of the puzzle for Southern Resident orca recovery.

Why this is a big deal:

Because the Snake River dams support communities and economies in the Pacific Northwest, decisionmakers have been reluctant to even consider their removal – despite the overwhelming scientific evidence of the harm caused to salmon, which has further impacts on river-dependent communities, Native Tribes, and the Pacific Northwest ecosystem (including Southern Resident orcas).  This year, we’ve had the most significant proposals for comprehensive solutions in the lifetime of these dams.  Decisionmakers are finally moving beyond the status quo.

What you can do:

Say thank you to Governor Inslee and Senator Murray!  And then, urge them not to delay and to firmly commit to breaching the dams.  We need this process to happen ASAP to protect the future of Snake River salmon and Southern Resident orcas.  Click here to send them a message.

We always encourage additional personal notes with your perspective – send a postcard, a tweet, or give them a call.  You can find their contact information here, and we can help with some talking points below:

  • Thank you, Governor Inslee and Senator Murray, for recognizing the crisis facing Pacific Northwest salmon and Southern Resident orcas.
  • I urge you to complete your assessment quickly, to fully commit to breaching the Lower Snake River dams, and focus on identifying resources and needs for a comprehensive solution.
  • Southern Resident orcas need Snake River salmon. With your commitment, we can breach the dams, support communities, and honor Tribes

Learn more about using your voice for Southern Resident orcas by catching up on our recent advocacy webinar.

Sign up to be an Orca Hero to be among the first we call on to take action for the Southern Residents.

Another way to help is by sharing this on social media!

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