Salmon Need Cold Rivers. Rivers are for Salmon!

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Dear Chris Hladick and the Environmental Protection Agency,

Thank you for the opportunity to share my deep concern for the southern resident orcas and the wild chinook salmon they depend upon.

As I’m sure you are aware, there are only 72 southern resident orcas in existence due to human interference with their primary food supply, wild chinook salmon, in the Columbia River Basin and the Salish Sea.

There are two species of orcas living in the Salish Sea and the southern resident orcas cousins, the Bigg’s orcas, are thriving in the same loud, polluted waters. The crystal clear difference is prey availability. The southern resident orcas (salmon eaters) are starving while the Bigg’s orcas (mammal eaters) are thriving due to an abundance of food. In just the last few years, Bigg’s orcas have produced more successful births than the entire population of the Southern Resident Orcas.

We appreciate your thorough TMDL report for us to pore over, read and study. As evidenced throughout this report and by several studies including Governor Jay Insee’s endangered southern resident orca task force, the only real solution that will protect salmon and the southern resident orcas from extinction is through the bold action of breaching the four federal lower snake river dams. With a free flowing river the harmful warm waters will cool to temperatures salmon can survive, salmon will return in abundance (approximately two million smolts annually) and adult salmon will have more success spawning without the barriers of the dams impeding their migration. Lastly, the Southern Resident Orcas will be given a chance to survive in this grim race against extinction.

With the buoyant announcement of three pregnancies for the southern resident orca population in July, evidenced through photogrammetry, it is more critical than ever to move forward to protect this beloved endangered population of orcas.

The EPA literally stands for the Environmental Protection Agency. Protection against harm and especially the calamity of extinction. I deeply disapprove of this apathetic suggestion that “a river’s uses are no longer expressly for salmon” as a reasonable solution to lower the bar in environmental standards because the standards are too difficult to meet. This is unacceptable to me. It is an absolute disgrace for an organization that holds the great responsibility of working under the name Environmental Protection Agency to stoop to indifference about two extinctions and the collapse of an ecosystem when we need you to rise up and protect.

Strong, bold, fair leadership is critical right now. It is past time to begin breaching these environmentally and economically disastrous dams.

I implore you to stand proud behind your honorable name and do the difficult thing that is necessary: Be the leader we need and Breach the Lower Four Snake River Dams in 2020. This bold action will make you responsible for protecting two species from extinction.