Regional Choices: The Salmon Crisis
Umatilla residents face many challenges in the coming decades. Scientists, environmentalists, and the four treaty tribes (Umatilla, Warm Springs, Yakama, and Nez Perce) are asking for the removal of the four lower Snake River dams in addition to drawing down the reservoir behind John Day Dam to restore spawning beds for salmon.
We are not going to allow a few Seattle
ultraliberal environmental zealots to destroy what took generations
Washington State Senator Dan McDonald
No dams, no water, no grapes, eat raisins.
sign at a Snake Dam rally, February, 1999
We just want to make sure humans don't get added to the endangered species list. Bill Martin, Tri-Cities Economic Development Group, 1999
We are not going to have dams and
salmon together here. . . A decade from now, people
living here. . . really wouldn't know the difference in the
lower Snake if dams were gone.
Scott Bosse, conservation scientist, Idaho Rivers United
Save the Salmon, kill the dams. sign at a Snake Dam rally, February, 1999
I believe that one way to do this and to equitably spread the economic burden is to build a recovery strategy that includes breaching the four lower Snake River dams. Governor John Kitzhaber, 1999
In March 1999, 200 independent scientists signed a letter asking the Clinton administration to bypass Army Corps of Engineers studies and return the Columbia to normative conditions. The letter stated, "Salmon or dams: not both." In response, fifty local officials of eastern Oregon and Washington communities gathered in Pasco, Washington. There they signed a resolution stating that salmon and dams can co-exist.
Dam-breaching would change transportation patterns on the mid-Columbia River, and some say it would destroy river communities. Others argue that the economic and spiritual benefits of salmon restoration outweigh negative consequences. This is an ongoing controversy with no easy solution.
Three signficant pieces of legislation uphold the restoration of salmon runs: the Endangered Species Act of 1973; the Northwest Power Act of 1980, and the Clean Water Act of 1972 [?]. In addition, and perhaps most importantly, the 1855 treaties with Columbia Basin tribes and federal trust responsibilities mandate preservation of salmon runs.