Thursday, December 14, the White House announced a true whole-of-government
commitment to restoring salmon. It includes massive commitments to invest in the
infrastructure reimbursements which are necessary to replace the services provided by
the four lower Snake River dams.
Credit must go to our own Congressman Simpson. He originally identified the range of
economic and societal winners and losers that benefit or are damaged by the existing 4
Lower Snake River Dams. He proposed a comprehensive plan to “moth-ball” the dams
and compensate/replace the benefits the dams are delivering in Idaho and Washington.
Trout Unlimited has thrown its full weight behind the campaign to deactivate the 4 dams.
Now the Biden administration has picked up the mission. The current proposal is for
Tribally-led renewable energy development, enhanced rail infrastructure to get grain to
market without relying on dams and barges, and infrastructure to support the fish
population. This puts us on the pathway to decommission the four dams.
And it’s more than just that – this is a pathway to restoring salmon to true abundance
throughout the Snake and Columbia Basin, protecting orca, and honoring our
commitments to Tribes.
This is a big deal. There will also be a chorus of objections from those that want to cling
to the status quo. For example, the State of Idaho has already said it will sue to block
these steps forward.
This announcement is the result of years of hard work by many. Credit especially goes
to the Idaho Conservation League which has pushed the issue within the broader
environmental community, working with other NGOs and Tribes from all across the
The announcement today means that the work shifts to implementing the dam removal
and get our salmon back. There is finally a clear path forward for our salmon. We all
need to support it and push it.
Written by Nick Miller, TUH Chapter President