Thursday, June 30, 2011

From the scientists who know: the future of Snake River salmon – and then some - depends on dam removal.

Last week, the Western Division of the American Fisheries Society – the nation’s oldest, largest, and well-respected association of fisheries biologists overwhelmingly (84% approval) passed a resolution affirming the importance of removing the four lower Snake River dams if we have any hope of protecting and restoring endangered wild salmon and steelhead.  Read the full resolution here.

The WDAFS has passed similar resolutions on several other occasions over the twelve years, though this is perhaps broadest in scope with more than a few whereas’s. This new resolution includes imperiled white sturgeon and critically imperiled lamprey – a highly prized cultural (e.g. food and medicine) resource by Columbia Basin Tribes. Lamprey returns last year over Lower Granite Dam were in the double digits. Not long ago, they returned to the Columbia Basin, like salmon and steelhead, in the millions.

The timing of the passage of the resolution was no accident. The scientists wanted an opportunity for the their voice to be heard before the judge rules on the adequacy of the Obama Administration’s Plan for Columbia Basin salmon and steelhead. The Western Division has recently published assessments of the 2008 Bush Plan (which they panned) and Obama’s Administration’s supplement to the Bush Plan (which they also planned). Read their review of Obama supplemental plan here.

Parties to the litigation are anxiously awaiting word from the judge and his verdict on the plan. Based on the language of the resolution, the plan clearly lacks the support of the vast majority of fisheries experts. Here are few choice excerpts:

WHEREAS many, and perhaps most, populations of wild Snake River salmon and steelhead are now extinct, and the remaining populations are currently listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act; and

WHEREAS wild Snake River salmon and steelhead have continued to decline as a result of delayed mortality from the hydropower system, despite recent improvements in ocean productivity, passage and adult returns; and

WHEREAS failure to restore Snake River salmon, steelhead, Pacific lamprey, and white sturgeon to sustainable, fishable levels puts the federal government in a position of failing to meet its Treaty Trust responsibilities; and

WHEREAS economic analyses have shown that river shippers pay only 9% of the total costs of maintaining and operating the lower Snake River navigation system (far exceeding subsidies for rail and highway freight transportation), and the remainder is subsidized by electric ratepayers and federal taxpayers; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that if society-at-large wishes to restore Snake River salmon, steelhead, Pacific lamprey, and white sturgeon to sustainable, fishable levels, then a significant portion of the lower Snake River must be returned to a free-flowing condition by breaching the four lower Snake River dams, and this action must be comprehensively planned and implemented, using appropriate techniques and management practices, in a timely manner.

Read the full resolution from WDAFS.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Lunch and a Movie Friday in DC with PBS Nature’s Salmon: Running the Gauntlet

Please join Save Our Wild Salmon and Earthjustice for a free lunchtime screening of the 50-minute film from the award-winning PBS Nature Film Series Salmon: Running the Gauntlet on June 17 at noon.

Free pizza, beverages and popcorn will be served throughout the hour. Filmmaker Jim Norton will be on hand to answer questions before and after the film.

When: June 17, 2011, 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.

Where: 1539 Longworth House Office Building, Washington D.C., DC 20515

Watch the full episode. See more Nature.

Going beyond the debate over how to save an endangered species, the film investigates the parallel stories of collapsing Pacific salmon populations and how biologists and engineers have become instruments in audacious experiments to replicate every stage of the fish’s life cycle. In its exposure of a wildly creative, hopelessly complex, and stunningly expensive approach to managing salmon, the film reveals one of the most ambitious plans ever conceived for taking the reins of the planet.

Questions? Please contact Susan Holmes: / 202.329.1553

Monday, June 13, 2011

Photo Exhibit in DC June 13 to 17: One of a Kind Salmon, One of a Kind Habitat

Little Redfish Lake in the Sawtooth Valley of Idaho. © Neil Ever Osborne

Sometimes you've got to get on the ground. Get dirty, muddy and immerse yourself in a story... That's exactly what photographer Neil Ever Osborne did to tell the story of Snake River salmon and their rugged mountain spawning grounds.

Tripods in the Mud (TIM) is an initiative of the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP) that helps partner professional nature photographers like Osborne with conservation organizations for the creation of visual materials on a specific region or issue.

Snake River salmon swim more than 900 miles inland and climb almost 7,000 feet to reach their spawning grounds — the highest salmon spawning habitat on the planet, and the largest and wildest habitat left in the continental United States. These one of a kind salmon travel farther and higher than any other salmon on Earth.

iLCP photographer Neil Osborne at Little Redfish Lake. © Emily Nuchols

Please join Save Our Wild Salmon and the iLCP in celebrating the wild salmon of the Pacific Northwest and the communities, jobs and people they support with a photo exhibit in the Russell Senate Rotunda.

The photography exhibit, One of a Kind Salmon, One of a Kind Habitat, will be on display in the Russell Rotunda from June 13 to 17. All photos courtesy Neil Ever Osborne, iLCP.

When: The exhibit will be on display in the Rotunda from June 13 to 17.

Where: Russell Senate Office Building Room 188

Sponsored by: American Rivers, Defenders of Wildlife, Earthjustice, Endangered Species Coalition, Idaho Rivers United, International League of Conservation Photographers, Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association, NW Energy Coalition, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, Save Our Wild Salmon, Sierra Club.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Seattle’s Burke Museum runs "Gauntlet"

Save Our Wild Salmon, Earthjustice and KCTS 9 hosted a very special evening – and a full house at the Burke Museum’s main floor - last night with delicious food, a provocative book and film, and engaging Q and A between the audience and panel of three experts.

The evening started Northwest style – enjoying Jensen’s Smokehouse king salmon prepared by Anthony Polizzi and his team from the Steelhead Diner and washed down by the Fremont Brewing Company’s Pale Ale. The food and grog was superb, and an excellent reminder for us all about one of the important contributions that salmon make to our region and nation – delicious, nutritious food. 
BIG THANKS to Jensen’s Smokehouse, Steelhead Diner, and Fremont Brewing for their generous contributions to a wonderful evening.

The program started off with author Steve Hawley reading from his just-released book about Columbia Basin salmon – Recovering a Lost River: Removing Dams, Rewilding Salmon, and Revitalizing Communities. He focused on a chapter about Puget Sound orcas, and how their fate hinges on how we as a region and nation decide to address the steep decline of chinook salmon stocks in the Columbia Basin. Our orcas are literally starving to death. The future of Puget Sound orca depends on significantly rebuilding Pacific Northwest chinook populations and the Columbia and Snake Rivers represent our greatest opportunity to do that. Lower Snake River dam removal, it turns out, is central to at least two endangered species - salmon and orcas.

Filmmaker Jim Norton introduced his film as an exploration into the degree to which we have damaged what was once the most productive salmon landscape on the planet, and the misguided and ultimately ineffective lengths that we have gone to techno-fix salmon back to abundance. The film suggests that a new approach is long overdue. All the evidence tells us this needed, but we haven’t quite (yet!) turned the corner to make it happen.

A Q and A session followed with Steve H, Jim N, and Steve Mashuda – an attorney for Earthjustice – fielding questions about the status of the litigation in front of Judge Redden, the impending Elwha dam(s) removal, the four lower Snake River dams, pollution, and tribal involvement, among others.

We finished up with a drawing for outdoor gear that was generously donated by the Patagonia store here in Seattle: two nano jackets and fishing waders! Very cool!

In addition to the businesses and organizations mentioned above, I want to express our deep gratitude to the following for their support for this evening:

A good evening all the way around!
- JB

Friday, June 3, 2011

Running the Gauntlet in San Francisco

Last night, a wonderful coalition of businesses and organizations and individuals teamed up to host Jim Norton and his very popular new film Salmon: Running the Gauntlet – one of the latest in the award-winning PBS Nature film series.

(From left to right) Jb, Zeke Grader, Jon Rosenfield, Jim Norton

The Aquarium of the Bay on San Francisco’s waterfront teamed up with the Save Our Wild Salmon, Earthjustice, and The Bay Institute to host the event. The room was packed – standing room only. More than 125 people attended. We started with a reception featuring delicious appetizers – smoked salmon and cheeses - served up by Kenny Belov of “2 X Sea”. Kenny is the co-owner of a very successful restaurant has developed a wide reputation as a purveyor of and articulate advocate for sustainable fisheries and seafood. Beer was generously donated by Sierra Nevada Brewing out of Chico, CA.

Kenny Belov of Two X Sea provided some great food.

Jim briefly introduced his film to kick off our program and set the stage for a lengthy Q and A session between the audience and a panel of local experts afterward.

Salmon – Running the Gauntlet was very well received. Released in early May, Running the Gauntlet has been one of the most well-watched episodes of the PBS film series, and is currently the most popular episode among the twelve most recent, based on an online poll that PBS started earlier this month. You can vote right here.

After the film we jumped immediately into Q and A. In addition to Jim, panelists included: Zeke Grader of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA), Paul Johnson, owner of the Monterey Fish Market, Jon Rosenfield Ph.D of The Bay Institute, and John McManus of Earthjustice. The questions ranged across the coast and across topics: the state of the fishing economy, the politics in Congress, salmon science and litigation, the Snake River dams, the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers and the San Francisco Bay Delta.

Everyone was particularly interested in how we get to “yes” - how can we bring stakeholders together (faster since these processes seem to drag out at times) and solve these salmon population crises while bringing people together and meeting community needs. They were also pretty excited about the growing number of success stories – dam removals and river restorations that really are starting to accumulate across the coast – the removal of numerous dams on the Rogue in southern Oregon, Marmot dam removal on the Sandy River outside Portland, Oregon, the impending removal of the two Elwha River dams on Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula, and the anticipated removal of four dams on the Klamath straddling the Oregon-California borders.

Special thanks also to American Sportfishing Association and SalmonAid for their help to promote the event.

Last, but certainly not least - our appreciation goes out to Patagonia for their generous donation of outdoor clothing that we used as door prizes at the end of the event. Patagonia is a leader in the industry - supporting wildlands conservation efforts, and healthy rivers, healthy salmon and healthy communities.

All in all another great event. Thanks especially to Jim Norton and all our fantastic partners and sponsors for helping make this event a huge success - and thanks to everyone for coming out and supporting salmon recovery, healthy rivers, and our West Coast fishing economy!

Joseph Bogaard -