Youth-led rally & march highlights urgent need to stop salmon and orca extinction, remove lower Snake River dams

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SEATTLE- On the first weekend of Orca Recovery Month, youth organizers and conservation groups marched and rallied, calling on Washington’s elected officials to include removing the four lower Snake River dams in their plan to restore endangered salmon populations on the Snake River, which Southern Resident orcas rely on. 

The Southern Resident orcas that call Puget Sound home are at risk of extinction, primarily due to lack of their main food source- Chinook salmon.  Salmon runs throughout the Southern Resident’s range are also endangered, including multiple salmon species on the Snake River which have been listed under the Endangered Species Act for over 30 years. Four dams on the lower Snake River continue to block 140-miles of pristine spawning habitat and pose lethal roadblocks in the salmon’s migration to and from the ocean.  Breaching of the lower Snake River dams represents our best opportunity to restore the large numbers of Chinook salmon that endangered, hungry orcas need to survive and recover.

“The scientific consensus is, and has been for decades now, that the only way to make sure that these species do not go extinct is to breach the Snake River dams,” said Owen Begley-Collier, youth volunteer of the Snake River Savers.

This fall, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray and Gov. Jay Inslee launched a process to develop a comprehensive plan to protect and restore Snake River salmon.  Next week, they are expected to release a report outlining the region’s options for replacing energy, shipping, and irrigation services provided by the lower Snake River dams. They have promised to deliver a recommendation, including a decision on the future of these four dams, by July 31, 2022.

“Washingtonians have an important role to play in restoring the habitat that northwest salmon and the Southern Resident orcas need to thrive,” states Pam Clough, Advocate with Environment Washington. “We can replace the power generated by the lower Snake River dams with clean, renewable energy that doesn’t contribute to the extinction of multiple species.”

Begley-Collier comments, “Governor Inslee and Senator Murray have promised salmon will not go extinct on their watch, so they must take bold action act back up the claim.”

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Environment Washington is a statewide, citizen-based environmental advocacy organization working for a cleaner, greener, healthier future.

Snake River Savers is a volunteer-based group with a mission to garner political support  breach the lower Snake River dams.