The science is clear. We use cookies on our website to give you the most relevant experience by remembering your preferences and repeat visits. The one thing we cannot do is expect Snake River salmon to flourish when they have to pass through 140 miles of predator-filled slackwater reservoirs and over four concrete walls to get to home. Whether the dams … That all changed when we inserted the concrete monoliths that are the lower four Snake River dams smack dab in the migration corridor of these remarkable fish that connect the mountains of Idaho to the waters of Pacific Ocean. The lower Snake River dams have touched on each of these topics since they were constructed over 40 years ago. It … A controversy has erupted since the late 20th century over the four lower Snake River dams, with the primary argument being that removing the dams would allow anadromous fish to reach the lower Snake River tributaries—the Clearwater River, the Tucannon River and the Grande Ronde River—and spawn in much higher numbers. So reads a remarkable letter recently sent to the governors of Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana by 10 of the finest and most-respected salmon and steelhead scientists in the world. “It is our collective opinion, based on overwhelming scientific evidence, that restoration of a free-flowing lower Snake River is essential to recovering wild Pacific salmon and steelhead in the basin.”. The plan guides dam management on the Columbia River System, which includes the four controversial Snake River dams. The four Snake River dams on the lower Snake in southeast Washington were completed in the 1960’s and 1970’s. These dams all have fish ladders, shipping locks and are some of the most fish friendly projects in the world. Today, populations of salmon in the Middle Fork—some of the finest salmon habitat in the world—are at about 1 percent of their historic numbers. The new plan says that’s the best option for fish – but too expensive in terms of irrigation, transportation and power generation. Lower Granite Dam, one of the four dams on the Lower Snake River that are driving all remaining Snake River salmon toward extinction. On the lower Snake River in southeastern Washington, it bridges Whitman and Garfield counties. This is even though we have spent over $17 billion as a nation to help recover Snake and Columbia river steelhead and salmon. These cookies do not store any personal information. You also have the option to opt-out of these cookies. By clicking “Accept”, you consent to the use of ALL the cookies. We can replace barge traffic on the reservoirs behind the dams with rail. The scientists conclude their letter by asking for the four governors’ “leadership to develop a comprehensive solution that includes removing the lower Snake River dams so that the extraordinary potential of the Snake River Basin for people and fish can be realized.”. As with most conservation issues, we do not have to choose between recovering salmon and maintaining and improving the socio-economic well-being of those whose livelihoods depend on the dams. The 4 Snake River Dams are located in Washington State, they are, dam 1 = Ice Harbor Dam, Lock and Lake Sacajawea, dam 2 = Lower Monumental Dam, Lock and Lake Herbert G.West, dam 3 = Little Goose Dam, Lock and Lake Bryan, dam 4 = Lower Granite Dam, Lock and Lower Granite Lake. Lower Granite Dam is located approximately 40-miles downstream of Lewiston, Idaho. The Lower Snake River Project features four locks and dams in the state of Washington: Ice Harbor Dam, Lower Monumental Dam, Little Goose Dam, and Lower Granite Dam. Europeans were farming wheat along the Lower Snake as early as the late 1800’s. Climate change is affecting the ocean, and conditions are deteriorating in both fresh and salt water. The dams became operational between 1961 and 1975. Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. Dam removal, however, must be part of a comprehensive recovery plan that includes restoring and protecting habitat, improving hatchery and fishery management, and reducing predation. “It is our collective opinion, based on overwhelming scientific evidence, that restoration of a free-flowing lower Snake River is essential to recovering wild Pacific salmon and steelhead in the basin.”. This study was commissioned to investigate the technical feasibility of replacing the Lower Snake River (LSR) Dams with an energy portfolio that meets the power needs of the region while minimizing costs and increases in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. lower Snake River dams is the single most important step we can take to recover abundant, fishable and harvestable Snake River salmon and steelhead. Federal agencies just released a new plan to recover endangered salmon and steelhead in the Columbia and Snake Rivers using only slightly different tactics than what were already in place. A Long Legal Fight for the River Over the past 25 years, conservation and fishing groups have gone to court challenging federal agency hydropower systems operation plans that failed to protect threatened and endangered salmon in the Columbia River basin. And while modifying the ocean is not within our immediate control, we have modified their migratory path. It’s simply a matter of time before the federal agencies admit it. Harvest, however, has been sharply curtailed. On Snake River, Gov. The Snake River basin and where the salmon (used to, and again, will) swim. As the scientists’ letter says, “Ocean conditions fluctuate” and salmon have evolved with changing ocean conditions for eons. The salmon populations in Idaho were so abundant that in the 1950s, before the construction of the four lower Snake River dams, recreational anglers on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River could catch and keep up to two salmon a day over a season that stretched months. We can make improvements to the power grid to assure the reliability of affordable power to cities and towns across the Northwest. The salmon populations in Idaho were so abundant that in the 1950s, before the construction of the four lower Snake River dams, recreational anglers on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River could catch and keep up to two salmon a day over a season that stretched months. We can make improvements to the power grid to assure the reliability of affordable power to cities and towns across the Northwest. The scientists say that “dam breaching is the essential cornerstone of a comprehensive, effective recovery strategy.” They also point out that “the weight of scientific evidence demonstrates there is no chance of restoring abundant, healthy and harvestable Snake River salmon and steelhead with the lower Snake River dams in place.”. This website uses cookies to improve your experience while you navigate through the website. They are economically unsustainable now. Today the lower Snake River dams (LSRDs) preform various functions; providing hydropower, navigation, irrigation and fish passage. We can use our creativity and ingenuity to make whole all the various communities of place and communities of interest dependent on the four lower Snake River dams. In the early days skilled steamboat operators carefully navigated both the Columbia and Lower Snake rivers in order to transport wheat and other goods to Portland. Take action - tell your elected officials we need a new approach. The Snake River basin and where the salmon (used to, and again, will) swim. The dams’ advocates often argue the salmon’s problems are overharvest, poor habitat and hatcheries. We can create economic opportunity for the towns dependent on the reservoirs. From 1994 to 2004, they ranged from 0.35 to 2.5 percent, exceeding 2 percent in just a single year. Since this time the Lower Snake River has been used as a means for getting products to markets. The lower four Snake River dams must come down. Pacific lamprey, another anadromous species of major significance to tribes and the freshwater and marine ecosystem, have also declined precipitously.”. Agriculture, Salmon, and the Snake River Dams . Idaho brags five-star wilderness-quality habitat. Lower Snake River dam removal. Supporters of retaining the lower Snake River dams warn that if they are removed, the hydropower dams on the Columbia between Washington and … Lower Snake River Dams: Economic Tradeoffs of Removal Economic Tradeoffs of Removing the Lower Snake River Dams The debate regarding the potential removal of the four Lower Snake River dams in Washington has been ongoing for over two decades, but much of the existing information is either outdated or incomplete. Hatcheries can manufacture fish in concrete tanks but create a false sense of abundance (comprising 80 percent of the fish in some years) and hurt wild fish. The lower Snake River dams produce roughly 1,100 average megawatts of carbon-free electricity compared to the Klamath River dam’s 78 average megawatts. Due to the lack of water storage, the dams also don't offer much in the way of irrigation. The four dams on the lower Snake River are part of a vast and complex hydroelectric power system operated by the federal government in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana.