Pacific Northwest Steelhead and Salmon Facing extinction: The Snake river lower 4 dam removal
The Snake River in the Pacific Northwest is facing a major crisis. As of 2021 the Snake river is the most endangered river in the United States. The salmon species that once thrived in the Snake are now facing a threatening level of extinction and the Steelhead population is dramatically declining. Fishing brings in $5 billion dollars annually to this area and creates 36,000 jobs, according to American Rivers.
Why is this Happening?
It comes down to 4 dams on the lower section of the Snake river causing major migratory impediments for these fish. The dams cause a huge extension on the time it takes Steelhead and Salmon to migrate upstream to colder water to lay their eggs. This means they are stuck in lethally warm water and exposed much longer to predators during this time. The dams are also huge physical barriers that often kill juvenile fish during their passage.
Get Rid of the dams...
Ultimately YES this needs to happen, but unfortunately getting rid of the dams will have major economic impacts. The Snake River currently is responsible for shipping 10% of the nation's wheat, and the 4 dams power 800,000 homes.
There is no doubt this crisis has just 1 solution. There needs to be compromise on both sides of the fence to make this happen. People need power and food. What many are proposing is that there are more efficient and environmentally responsible shipment methods for farmers, and the energy harvested from the dams can be supplemented with alternative methods that may even yield higher outputs and greater efficiency.
It boils down to this.. If we don't remove the dams, we lose our Steelhead and Salmon. As conservationists we know what we have to do to keep this amazing natural occurrence alive.
Snake River steelhead. Josh Duplechian photo.
Take action now!
" Contact your representatives in Congress today, let them know you support Snake River basin salmon and steelhead and U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson’s proposal to remove the four lower Snake River dams, creating once again a free-flowing river where salmon and steelhead swim unfettered to and from the ocean. " - Trout Unlimited