Salmon are an integral part of both the environment and the fishing communities that depend on them for their survival. The President has a unique opportunity to create a first-of-its-kind comprehensive policy for the Snake bringing together the businesses, fishermen, and other affected stakeholders to chart a new course for wild salmon and salmon-dependent communities that provides solutions based on good science and economics.
- President Obama
Federal Judge James Redden has ruled your administration's Columbia Basin salmon and steelhead plan inadequate and illegal. Your administration now has the opportunity to pursue a new path to recover wild salmon, rebuild jobs, protect communities, and invest in the clean energy economy. Many thousands of jobs and the integrity of the Endangered Species Act hang in the balance.
I call on you to bring together the affected stakeholders and recover all credible recovery options - including the removal of the four lower Snake River dams - so that we can be certain that these salmon are here to nourish and inspire future generations.
Snake River salmon are a miracle of nature. Fighting hundreds of miles upstream and thousands of feet in elevation, against obstacles natural and human, to their natal streams to spawn their next generation, salmon inspire us for their persistence and determination. And the Washington, Idaho, and Oregon mountain habitat of this one-of-a-kind species is also unique. Standing between 4,000 to 7,000 feet, this is the largest, wildest, and best-protected salmon habitat remaining in the "Lower 48" states. This area is considered the "Noah's Ark" for salmon. If they can reach this habitat, wild salmon and steelhead will thrive once again.
But these Snake River fish, and all that they provide, remain today at risk of extinction.
Your Administration's current salmon policies will neither protect these one-of-a-kind species nor reconnect them with their unique habitat. Four dams on the lower Snake River threaten the very existence of these fish. Salmon can survive some dams, but Snake River salmon and steelhead must travel past eight of them - and that is four too many.
The facts are clear: science, law, and economics all point toward removing the four lower Snake River dams to protect these one-of-a-kind species and reconnect them to their one-of-a-kind habitat. The limited services these dams provide can be replaced with effective, affordable, and salmon-friendly alternatives. Right now, we have an opportunity achieve sustainability: wild salmon and productive farms and a healthy economy and clean energy. With your leadership, we can responsibly and successfully address and solve these issues in a manner that can serve as a model for the nation.
Your Administration is responsible for protecting Snake River salmon and I urge you to make this part of your legacy. Please start work today with affected stakeholders to develop a lawful, scientifically sound salmon plan that includes the removal of the lower Snake River dams. Allow these remarkable salmon to again reach their ancestral habitat and provide us all with the bounty they bring from the sea.
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