Friday, May 27, 2011

Thank you Seattle! - A Two Rivers Review

We had a fantastic turnout for our “Tale of Two Rivers” event at the REI store in Seattle on Tuesday. The room was packed – standing room-only with well over a hundred attendees.

A Tale of Two Rivers, Seattle © Jeff Paine, American Whitewater

The reception before the event featuring delicious smoked chinook salmon from Seattle’s own Jensen’s Smokehouse never hurts attendance either.

We split the program into two parts. We started with a celebration of the impending removal of the two dams on the Elwha River on Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula and and a review of how a “radical” idea like removing dams became one that is now “radically” popular. One is hard-pressed to find an opponent of Elwha Dam removal. Everyone is on board: the federal government, local communities, fishing and tourism-based businesses. And of course the Lower K’lallam Tribe living on the banks of Elwha River (opposed these dams from day 1 – one hundred years ago). Michael Garrity (American Rivers), Shawn Cantrell (Seattle Audubon), and Tom O’Keefe (American Whitewater) did a great job of setting the stage, describing the long campaign’s legal and political twists and turns, and detailing what exactly removal will entail.

Tom O'Keefe of American Whitewater ©Jeff Paine, AW

One of the key reasons for the success and popularity today of Elwha River restoration through dam removal is that in the end, all the affected stakeholders whose lives and businesses have been connected to these two dams got their needs met as part of the “solutions package.” For example, the dams’ energy consumers had their energy replaced, and the City of Port Angeles secured a clean and affordable water supply for their citizens and businesses. It is the same kind of stakeholder outcomes that we’ll need in the Snake River basin in order to responsibly restore a free-flowing lower stretch of river.

Michael Garrity speaking w/ Shawn, Jb, and Tom ©Jeff Paine, AW

We then switched gears, and hosted the Seattle premiere of The Greatest Migration from EP Films – a 22-minute film highlighting the one-of-a-kind salmon and the one-of-a-kind habitat of the Snake River Basin. It is an understatement to suggest that the film was well-received. People loved it and wanted copies to show their friends and family – and even strangers in some cases.

We finished up with lots of Q and A, more of Jensen’s Smoked kings. People went home content – their bellies full, proud of what our state has accomplished on the Elwha, and optimistic about our opportunities for a similar outcome on the Snake River in eastern Washington.

A huge THANK YOU to all participating organizations and attendees!

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