Tuesday, April 27, 2010

We Love Rivers! Lounging at Belly River, Glacier National Park

We're in the final week of our photo contest with Mountain Khakis. With so many great submissions, we're hoping that you've been more than inspired to get outside and enjoy and protect rivers all over the world.

This week we're featuring this fantastic photo taken at the Belly River in Glacier National Park. Certainly looks like an afternoon well spent!

Want to take part? You've got until April 30 to submit your favorite river photos! The grand prize winner scores a pair of Mountain Khakis Snake River pants!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday River Wrap-Up

We've got to give big props to People for Puget Sound for making our Friday with this video. Seriously, we're still reeling with laughter. Watch it. Love it. Send it to your friends.

And in other river news...

Why is the Bel Monte River in Brazil a bad idea? International Rivers tells us why.

American Rivers reminds us that "rivers are a big part of a new national initiative to focus community-level efforts on conserving outdoor spaces."

And we might as well do some shameless self promotion of our own contest... send us a photo of your favorite river for a chance to win sweet schwag!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

We Love Rivers! What's Your Favorite?

We're having so much fun running our photo contest with Mountain Khakis, because there's nothing we love more than looking at beautiful river photos. With so many great submissions, we're hoping that you've been more than inspired to get outside and enjoy and protect rivers all over the world!

This week we chose to feature this great photo of the Colorado River, taken at Dead Horse Point.

Want to take part? You've got until April 30 to submit your favorite river photos! The grand prize winner scores a pair of Mountain Khakis Snake River pants!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Orcas and Salmon: Shafted again?

Puget Sound community members and orca advocates call for leadership from President Obama, Senators Murray and Cantwell.

Is Obama's Team Really Willing to Save Puget Sound's Orcas?

Puget Sound's Southern Resident killer whales (or orcas) were listed as endangered in 2005. Since that time it has known that inadequate food is a primary reason for the orcas' decline. And yet it continues to avoid even considering an action that has the enormous potential to provide these spectacular, intelligent marine mammals with enough of their main food -- salmon.

People For Puget Sound's Kathy Fletcher knows that orcas are a critical part of Puget Sound's ecosystem, and that Columbia-Snake Basin chinook are essential for their survival. On April 12, she took the Obama administration to task -- again -- for its apparent lack of interest in saving the endangered orcas. Read the press release below.

For more information, please contact:
Kathy Fletcher, People For Puget Sound, (206) 382-7007
Steve Mashuda, Earthjustice, (206) 343-7340 x 27

People For Puget Sound Calls on Obama Administration Again to Analyze Southern Resident Orcas’ Need for Columbia River Chinook, Lower Snake River Dam Removal. Previous Warnings from Scientists Ignored by NOAA

Seattle, WA – Responding to a federal judge’s order that the Obama Administration more closely look at salmon-killing effects of Columbia and Snake River dams, the Executive Director of People For Puget Sound urged the government to remember that the fate of Puget Sound’s iconic killer whale population hangs in the balance. The Southern Resident population of killer whales is at a critically low level of fewer than 90 individuals, despite several new calves in the last year.

In a 2008 study by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the government concluded that the Columbia River hydropower dams do not affect Puget Sound’s Southern Resident Killer Whales – even though the dams are responsible for killing hundreds of thousands of chinook salmon each year. Chinook make up more than 70 percent of the diet of those killer whales (also called orcas).
“NOAA’s own research has found that Southern Residents are jeopardized by salmon population declines as far south as California,” said Kathy Fletcher, Executive Director of People For Puget Sound, who sent the letter to Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke and NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco. “NOAA’s conclusion – that low chinook populations close to home in the Columbia River have no effect on our orcas – just doesn’t hold water.”

Fletcher pointed to NOAA’s conclusion last summer, in an analysis of Sacramento River water projects, that hatchery production of chinook cannot make up for wild fish mortality over the long run. “NOAA found, in 2009, that ‘There is no evidence that a population produced predominantly in hatcheries can persist over the long run,’” Fletcher said, “and yet the Columbia River analysis relies exclusively on hatchery production to mitigate for the dam-related mortality of wild salmon.”

“The Southern Resident Killer Whales will go extinct without more chinook salmon. The orcas and the people of the Northwest who care about their fate deserve a plan for the Snake and Columbia River’s fish-killing dams that protects and restores our salmon and our resident killer whales.”
Fletcher’s letter observed that a number of prominent orca scientists brought this inconsistency to NOAA’s attention a year ago. These scientists also noted that the Columbia River analysis omitted consideration of Lower Snake River dam removal, despite strong evidence that this is the most effective measure for assuring chinook – and Southern Resident orca – survival.

A federal court has now given NOAA one last chance to fully review the scientific underpinnings of the Columbia River study. Fletcher wrote Locke and Lubchenco, “The court has directed NOAA to look at the best available science. People For Puget Sound, representing over 20,000 concerned citizens, urges you not to overlook the Southern Resident orcas during this review, and to take seriously the real possibility of their extinction if wild salmon are not restored to the Columbia River basin.”
Conservationists and fishermen are challenging the Obama administration’s plan for the Columbia and Snake dams in a federal Court in Portland, Oregon. People For Puget Sound is not involved in that lawsuit. 

Steve Mashuda, an attorney with Earthjustice who represents plaintiffs in that case, said he hopes that the Obama administration’s current re-examination of the science behind the Columbia River analysis will be consistent with its findings for the Sacramento River. “Our killer whales shouldn’t have to travel all the way to Monterey Bay before they can find a decent meal. We need the Obama administration to ensure that the Columbia River, the largest salmon-producing river in the lower 48 states, can do its part and feed the orcas, too.”

Friday River Wrap-Up

What's hot on the rivers this week? Here's our weekly river wrap-up.

James Cameron Joins Brazil's Amazon Dam Protest -- Good news for the Amazon, and those against the Bel Monte dam project, who now have the support of this well-known director.

Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day
-- A great piece over on the American Rivers blog about celebrating the river conservation movement.

100 Places the Remember Before They Disappear
-- Both the Columbia and the Mississippi make it onto this list by Newsweek.

Get the latest and greatest in salmon and river news by following us on Twitter.

[Photo via: Amazon Watch]

Monday, April 12, 2010

Spill Baby Spill!

Northwest Independent Scientific Advisory Board Tells Obama Administration To Continue Spill to Save Salmon

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Independent Scientific Advisory Board (ISAB) of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council offered some advice today to federal bureaucrats – keep spilling water over dams on the Snake River to give young salmon and steelhead a fighting chance of safely reaching the Pacific Ocean.

The Obama administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has proposed to eliminate key portions of the spring spill program for young salmon, and instead remove the fish from the river, put them in barges, and ship them downstream to the ocean. Spill is a salmon protection measure that sends water over the dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers in order to help young salmon migrate through the federal hydrosystem. It is widely regarded as the safest and most effective means of helping these fish reach the Pacific Ocean, as long as the dams remain in place.

“We applaud the ISAB for recommending that spill be retained this spring, and we hope the Obama administration listens carefully. Leaving salmon without an effective way to get past the dams by cutting spill, as the administration has proposed, would be a direct impact to endangered salmon, fishing communities and sound science,” said Douglas DeHart, fisheries scientist and former chief of fisheries of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. “Studies have consistently shown that young salmon which are allowed to migrate in-river with adequate flows and spill return as adults at much higher rates than those transported downstream via barge and truck.”

Since 2006, U.S. District Court Judge James Redden has ordered spill to protect migrating salmon after conservation and fishing groups fought to have such measures instituted — over the strenuous objections of federal agencies. The ISAB’s report supports the premise behind Judge Redden’s spill orders, stating: “... the ISAB’s assessment of scientific data, references, and analyses that were reviewed leads us to the same conclusion as expressed in our previous review (ISAB 2008-5), specifically that spill should be viewed as a default condition and that a mixed strategy of transportation and spill, as implemented in recent years, is once again the strategy most in accord with the available scientific information.”

“This recommendation is important for our economy. Judge Redden’s spill means more salmon in our rivers, and more salmon mean more jobs in the Pacific Northwest. Since Judge Redden initiated mandatory spill in the spring and summer, Columbia-Snake salmon populations have been able to hang in there, and our fishing communities are benefitting from his foresight,” said Glen Spain, Northwest regional director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations.

Fishing advocates and conservation groups have expressed grave concern that the 2009 Obama salmon plan rolls back spill — an action all too familiar from failed Bush-era salmon plans. And now the administration is proposing the elimination of spill starting May 1, 2010, citing predictions that 2010 is shaping up to be a low-water year. The Obama administration presented its proposal for cutting spring spill to the ISAB for its consideration on March 12.

The ISAB report took issue with the NMFS proposal by concluding: “Based on ecological principles and considering the uncertainties of the data, using combinations of transport and in-river migration with spill spreads the risk across species, stocks and the ecosystem, while offering an approach to shed light on uncertainties in the data. Allowing a significant proportion of the Snake River stocks to run the river, even in a low flow year, provides more natural river conditions than barging.”

“Today the ISAB said, ‘Not so fast, Mr. President.’ Spill has been effective, and we need it to continue in this low-flow year,” said Jim Martin, former chief of fisheries with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. “In fact, NMFS is the odd one out here. Fishery scientists across the region are calling for more spill, not less. Now the ISAB has also concluded that spill is important for protecting the Columbia-Snake’s imperiled salmon.

NMFS will now need to decide whether to follow the scientific advice that spill is crucial for salmon protection this year, or whether it will ignore the ISAB’s guidance and drastically curtail this key salmon protection measure.

“The future of these iconic fish, along with their cultural and economic benefits, hinges on the long-term restoration efforts we put in place. We sure hope NMFS follows the science,” said Spain. “But if NMFS chooses to ignore the science, we may have to ask the court for help. A federal plan that turns back the clock on these protections also turns science on its head. Surely we can do better.”

PHOTO: The Columbian

Friday, April 9, 2010

Friday River Wrap-Up

What's hot on the rivers this week? Here's our weekly river wrap-up.

10 Endangered Vacations: Salmon Fishing on the Snake River -- The Daily Green rounds up some of the best vacations that are currently under threat... what's the main reason salmon fishing on the Snake River is at risk? "In a word: Dams." We couldn't have said it better ourselves.

Milestone Toward Elwha Dam Removal -- Oregon Public Broadcasting takes a look at the latest steps towards dam removal in Washington. Glines Canyon Dam and Elwha Dam are the two nation's biggest hydroelectric dams scheduled for destruction to date.

San Joaquin River's Flow Extends to Pacific Again -- A historic moment in California: "The San Joaquin River is now flowing from Friant Dam to the Pacific Ocean, reaching the first milestone in a plan to bring back Chinook salmon... It has been decades since the river flowed continuously from the dam to the ocean during spring, summer and fall without the help of an unusually wet year."

Get the latest and greatest in salmon and river news by following us on Twitter.

[Photo via: Fresno Bee]

Monday, April 5, 2010

We Love the Snake River! Win Mountain Khakis Gear By Showing Us Your Favorite Rivers

The folks at Save Our Wild Salmon and Mountain Khakis love free-flowing rivers. Rivers are the lifeblood that connect our nation — flowing from mountains to the sea and crossing state and country borders.

Our favorite? We love the rugged Snake River. Its headwaters begin in the wildlands of Wyoming, fed by meltwater from the Tetons, and its waters flow through the Rocky Mountains of Idaho and the Palouse prairies of Eastern Washington before feeding into the mighty Columbia River.

But what makes the Snake River even more impressive? It is home to the legendary Snake River sockeye. Snake River sockeye have the most epic migration path of any salmon on Earth — swimming more than 900 miles inland and climbing 7,000 feet in elevation to spawn in the rugged Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho.

There are not many issues today that people can agree on. But for 20 years, a diverse coalition of commercial, sport and recreational fishing groups, outdoor industry businesses, conservation organizations, and clean energy and taxpayer advocates have joined forces to save an icon of the American West — Snake River salmon and the waters they return to each year.

But we’re sure you’ve got your favorite river; a pristine, wild waterway where you love to play and celebrate the outdoors. Maybe it’s right down the road from your house, or it’s on the other side of the world, a river where you experienced your most memorable travel moment. It might even be a river watershed that you spend time volunteering to protect. Wherever it is, we want to see it!

To show you just how much we love the Snake River and its salmon, and celebrate all the beautiful rivers to be found around the world, we’re giving away some sweet gear from Mountain Khakis!

Between April 1 and April 30, send us a photo of your favorite river. As a little incentive we’ll be featuring a photo on our blog each week and we’ll be giving away some cool Mountain Khakis schwag throughout the month!

On April 30, we’ll give away our grand prize — a pair of MK Snake River pants!

Entering is easy! To submit, upload your photo(s) to the Save Our Wild Salmon We Love Rivers Flickr Pool. Make sure your photo has a title and a description of why it's your favorite river. We look forward to seeing your work and the rivers that you love!

To win you must be a U.S. resident or have a U.S shipping address. Sorry!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Salmon & Steelhead: An Economic Engine

The Lewiston Tribune released a great editorial today, expanding on something folks in Washington, Idaho, and Oregon know full well: salmon and steelhead mean business for families and communities throughout the region. Read on...

Lewiston Tribune Editorial - April 2nd, 2010
Feds would shut off tap on fishing economy

Healthy steelhead and salmon runs have proved to be recession-proof for the economies of eastern Washington and north central Idaho. Unfortunately, politics may intervene.

In the last couple of years, more fish came back up the Snake and Clearwater rivers than in recent memory - and with them came anglers and angler dollars. In Clearwater County, anglers spent $679,600 for lodging in September and October. During the same two months in 2008, they spent $392,500. Just the tax on lodging in Asotin County generated $160,000 last year. In 2008, it produced $166,000. In Nez Perce County, lodging tax revenues reached $188,000 in 2008 and dropped just a little to $186,000 a year later.

You won't get much argument about steelhead and salmon runs being an economic engine. The argument is about how much. But take a conservative estimate based on University of Idaho, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Census Bureau studies and you'll get anglers spending an average of $83 a day, or almost $300 per fishing trip. More of them are coming. Three years ago, 8,805 out-of-staters purchased a three-day Idaho salmon/steelhead fishing permit. Last year, the total was up another 20 percent.

All of which serves as context to the Obama administration's ongoing efforts to diminish those runs. Of course, that's not the administration's intent. But that's the likely outcome. Biologists credit positive ocean conditions for record runs. But you can't control ocean conditions. You can influence what happens in the Snake River, and for the last three years, a federal judge has ordered fish spilled past the dams on the river. The Fish Passage Center credits that move with speeding the smolts toward the Pacific and depositing them in a healthier state.

The alternative is barging the young fish around the dams to the sea, a process that spreads disease. Federal officials tried that for almost 20 years with mixed results. While steelhead tolerate barging, salmon do not fare as well.

But with a low snowpack, the Obama administration says spilling fish past the dams is a luxury. It's proposing to cut off spill on May 1, two weeks after the fish migration starts and about three months sooner than last year.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Services has submitted this plan to the Northwest Power Planning Council's Independent Scientific Advisory Board. Less spill means more barging. "In our review, we concluded that the two-week period of no spill and maximum transportation of steelhead would adversely impact a significant proportion of the total migration of juvenile salmon and steelhead remaining in-river," the Fish Passage Center concluded. "Given that such a high proportion of yearling chinook, sockeye, coho and lamprey juveniles pass these collector projects during this time, it is highly likely that eliminating spring spill from May 1 until the initiation of summer spill would significantly increase the proportion of these populations that would be transported."

An adverse ruling no doubt would send fish advocates back to the courts to continue spill. In the meantime, expect to hear debate about the impact of spill - and diminished electrical power generation - as a drain on the region's economy. Perhaps. But this much is clear. Spill equals more fish and fish are providing a lifeline to Washington and Idaho communities now struggling with unemployment and few prospects. Fish aren't the only critters endangered by more barging. - M.T.

Friday River Wrap-Up

While we're busy trying to protect salmon on the Snake River, there is plenty of other great work happening on other rivers around the country. So we're devoting every Friday to giving you some of the highlights. Here's what made us happy this week:

Many of State's High Hazard Dams Go Uninspected - Article featuring the great work of one of our great partners, American Rivers
“Where dams are no longer doing what they were built to do, let’s remove them, rather than fix them,’’ said Alison Bowden, who directs the freshwater program for The Nature Conservancy. “Sometimes, the real hazard is created because the dam is there.’’
Celebrate Rivers: Did You Know 600,000 River Miles Are Impounded Behind Dams? - Taking a look at the impact of dams from a paddler's perspective via Epicocity Project

Torpedo the Dams -- To Prevent More Floods
- A great Op-Ed in the Boston Globe

D.C Bag Tax Collects $150,000 in January for River Cleanup - Less single-use plastic and more money for river cleanups. We love it!

Get the latest and greatest in salmon and river news by following us on Twitter.

[Photo via: Epicocity Project]

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Obama Administration Loves Salmon — Will Give Salmon a River to Run!

Fishing and salmon advocates are stoked! Today, Obama administration and NOAA officials said that they would spill much-needed water over hydropower dams on the Columbia-Snake Rivers to save baby salmon and steelhead. Officials said that they love salmon just so gosh-durn much, that they'd do anything to save them, including a study of the removal of four aging dams on the Lower Snake River. Right on Obama, we really wanna spawn-a!

The Obama administration is going to keep trucking... fish that is. Ridiculous, no?