Hundreds of people gathered on March 26th in Tacoma to call on members of Congress from the Pacific Northwest to save salmon and the southern resident orca. While marching in the streets of Tacoma, we could feel the support from the community as bystanders stopped to talk or honk from their cars in support.
Save Our Wild Salmon, Environment Washington, and dozens of other organizations hosted the event, “Stop Salmon Extinction Rally,” to unite people around stopping the extinction of two keystone species, chinook salmon and orcas. While folks were welcomed into an event with a native folk band singing “take those damn dams down,” speakers highlighted the urgency to save salmon and orca this year.
The rally comes at an exciting time. Governor Inslee and U.S. Senator Patty Murray are currently working on a dam service replacement report that is set to come out by July 31st, 2022. Breaching the lower Snake River dams is our single biggest opportunity to rejuvenate salmon and save orcas.
Southern Resident orcas eat almost nothing but Chinook salmon — it makes up 80 percent of their diet. But these salmon are rapidly vanishing because their path from spawning rivers into the Puget Sound is blocked by multiple dams. In total, the Lower Snake River dams obstruct 140 miles of prime salmon migration waterways, and salmon populations have declined by 90 percent since they were built. All Snake River salmon runs are now listed as threatened or endangered, including the Chinook salmon that orcas depend on.
At the event, Alyssa Macy, CEO of Washington Environmental Council/Washington Conservation Voters, as well as a member of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs in Oregon stated the importance of salmon to Indigenous communities. She shared that without salmon the integrity of our Tribes, fishers, business owners, communities, and our Northwest ecology stands at a precarious tipping point. She hoped that the showing of public support during the rally would push our elected officials even further to act to save salmon and the future of the Pacific Northwest.
We hope it does too.
Photos by Pam Clough, Environment Washington