Getting the word out about the critical relationship between orcas and dams

Explaining the critical relationship between orcas and salmon.
Ken Balcomb explains the critical relationship between orcas and salmon.

As you all know by now, the death of J28 Polaris has been announced by the Center for Whale Research and the probable death of J54 Dipper is nearly certain. For such a solemn announcement, it was important to have a large number of press to understand the starvation situation facing the Southern Residents and to get the word out that dam breaching must happen now. The turnout was really fantastic. TV news crews from KOMO4, KING5, KIRO7 and Q13 aired stories on their stations yesterday and today. Many reporters wrote and distributed stories in print paper and online. This is an important step in helping provide critical visibility that the 4 lower Snake Rivers dams should not be included in the years-long NEPA process just beginning, and that the 2002 EIS should be utilized to begin breaching by December 2016.  Here is more information on the vital connection between endangered orcas and the lower Snake River dams.

Press Conference for the Orcas- 1 PM Friday, October 28th 2016

Please attend this important PRESS CONFERENCE regarding the Puget Sound orcas. This is a press conference being put on by The Center for Whale Research.  Ken Balcomb, Deborah Giles, Howard Garrett, Carol Ray and Jeff Ventre will all be in attendance.  We would like as many people as possible to show up in support of this event and the orcas.  I have the signs, banners, and inflatable orca.  I just need YOU to come out and help.

Please show up!

Please meet at the Port of Seattle:  Bell Street Pier Observation Deck – Pier 66, 2225 Alaskan Way, Seattle, WA 96121

1 PM

Event details on Facebook

A message from Jim Waddell about the Chinook salmon season closure

Jim’s message is in response to this Oregon Fish and Wildlife Facebook post:

Folks, once again the Feds have got you guys blaming each other, sea lions, birds, you name it.  There is a solution waiting in the wings that the Corps of Engineers, BPA and NOAA Fisheries have been hiding because they want to spend another five years and at least a 100 million dollars developing a new Environmental Impact Statement for operating all the Federal Dams in the Basin.  This is just another ruse hiding in the skin of a response to Judge Simmons rebuke of their BiOp for salmon recovery on the Snake, primarily because of the four Lower Snake River Dams.  The truth is, there is an existing EIS with dam breaching in it that is supposed to go into effect if the other efforts in the EIS failed.  Of course they did after spending nearly a billion of your tax money on just the 4 dams.  The Corps can, without asking for Congressional Authorization or new appropriations, start breaching the first dam in December! Yes, that is in a couple months, but they don’t have the guts to do it without some friendly, or not, pressure from the politicians in Washington, Oregon and Idaho.  So far none have picked up the phone to even inquire if this is possible.  Please vent your anger at these politicians for failing to demand the Corps do this now instead of wasting more money and another decade.  There will be nothing left for anybody or anything if we don’t breach now.  And forget about the power and navigation benefits from these four dams, there are none. Visit the damsense.org website for more info on how this can be done. Also our Facebook page.

Jim Waddell

Civil Engineer, PE, USACE Ret

Oregon and Washington Fish and Game Close Chinook season early

Oregon Fish and Wildlife Facebook post.

CLACKAMAS, Ore. – Recreational salmon and steelhead fishing will close starting Saturday on the Columbia River from Buoy 10 to the Hwy. 395 Bridge near Pasco, Wash., under rules adopted today by fishery managers from Oregon and Washington.

The closure is based on the latest fall Chinook run forecast, which indicates the Upriver Bright component, which includes ESA-listed Snake River wild Chinook, is tracking at 71 percent of the preseason forecast of 579,600 Chinook. Coho salmon and steelhead returns have also been revised downward from pre-season forecasts.

Based on the revised run-size projection, fishery managers estimate that combined non-treaty fisheries have exceeded the allowed harvest limit on Upriver Bright Chinook. The states opted to also close the recreational coho salmon and steelhead seasons to prevent any additional Chinook mortalities that might have occurred as the result of incidental bycatch.

For more information, visit the Regulations Update Page on the ODFW website.

Recent comments from Howard Garrett

Recent comments from Howard Garrett…here’s how this rose-tinted promotional hype below severely impacts the prospects for recovery of Southern Residents. The urgent need right now is for executive action to begin removal of the 4 lower Snake River dams, while continuing to call for every other means of restoring salmon. There are good biological reasons for focusing on those dams right now. President Obama is well informed and seems willing to get it done, but he’ll need at least tacit agreement from Governor Inslee and Senator Murray. They have been informed also, but an essential part of that information for them and their constituents is to understand just how close Southern Residents are to losing their reproductive capacity and dying out altogether. The headlines, the tone and the intent behind media stories like this wipe out the sense of urgency we are trying to convey to leaders. The chances of Southern Residents finding more salmon in coming years just went way down with promotional stories like this.

Announcement of Columbia River Basin Scoping Process for New EIS

london-dam2On Friday, September 30th, 2016, the Federal government announced the schedule for the upcoming scoping process for a new Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for 14 dams in the Columbia River Basin.

While it is important during this process for citizens to provide comments urging that the 4 lower Snake River dams be breached ASAP to save endangered salmon, steelhead, and orcas, we must remind ourselves of a few things.

  1.  The Army Corps of Engineers went through this process in the late 1990’s and published the EIS for the 4 lower Snake River dams in 2002.  It took 7 years and cost $33 million.
  2. The Army Corps of Engineers included breaching in that EIS and said it would have “the greatest probability of meeting the government’s salmon survival and recovery criteria”.  
  3. The EIS also had 3 other alternatives:  1. Doing nothing, 2. Maximum transport of juvenile fish, 3. Major system improvements.  The Corps predicted that alternatives 2 and 3 would be slightly worse than doing nothing.  They were right.  Fish recovery has not taken place.
  4. The Corps then chose the alternative slightly worse than doing nothing based on flawed economic data that showed inflated costs for breaching and reduced benefits of breaching.
  5. This new EIS will be published in 2021.  Salmon, steelhead, and orcas may not last that long.  Extinction is a real possibility in the next 5 years.

There is no reason to believe that this new EIS will turn out any differently.  It is a real possibility that breaching will not be in the new EIS.  And if it is, there is no reason to believe that they will choose to do it.

So we must not sit by complacently and believe that anything is going to change as a result of this process.  We need to push for breaching ASAP and that means NOW.  Not next year, not in 2021.  Time is of the essence.  For even more reasons why, read this excellent paper.  

Working to breach Lower Snake River dams to save millions of tax dollars annually, bring wealth & jobs to a region and restore salmon runs which will increase prey availability for southern resident orcas.