Legislation: SEM advocates flooded the legislative hotline last spring to support a bill to protect salmon habitat by prohibiting motorized or gravity siphon
mining (gold panning) and its effluent discharge in our rivers and streams. It was overwhelmingly approved. Yeah!
Environmental Impact Statements: SEM advocates submitted public comments on a draft EIS about dams on the lower Snake River. As anticipated, the US Army Corps of Engineers recently announced it won’t remove those four dams. However, federal courts threw out five previous plans because they didn’t do enough to protect salmon, and Earthjustice will file another lawsuit when the final EIS/plan is released this fall. Yes!
Comments were also submitted on a draft Environmental Protection Agency EIS concerning water pollution/temperatures. Although the EPA now admits that high temperatures in the pools behind eight lower Snake and Columbia River dams are responsible for the near extinction of the rivers’ salmon, it’ll likely say the dams can stay. But Washington implemented new state standards for water temperatures in those rivers last May. It’s virtually impossible to keep the temperature below 68° unless the dams are removed. Stay tuned.
The WA Department of Ecology issued a draft EIS on building a flood-control dam on the Chehalis River. The public comments were overwhelmingly anti-dam, and Governor Inslee has directed Ecology to focus instead on a non-dam alternative. He wants “a balance between flooding and saving struggling salmon species.” He wants it delivered by September and considered by the legislature in 2021. Right on!
Breaching Dams Without SEM Involvement:
Salmon in the Elwha River are doing much better since its two dams were removed in 2014. This summer a dam on the Pilchuck River near Granite Falls and the Nooksack Dam on the Middle River near Bellingham were breached to help save the salmon in those rivers. Four Klamath River dams in southern Oregon and California are also coming down. Hurrah!
Continuing the Campaign: The US Army Corps of Engineers issued a final EIS in July which authorizes a gold and copper mine on Bristol Bay (Alaska), watershed for the world’s largest sockeye salmon run. The Seattle EPA office withdrew its 2014 project restrictions a few days later. More than 30 native tribes are dependent on these salmon for their subsistence. If Pebble Mine is allowed to proceed, it’ll have devastating impacts on their lives as well as the salmon and the fishing and tourist industries.
The US House of Representatives attached a ban on Pebble Mine permitting to 2021 spending legislation it passed. Both of our US Senators are opposed to Pebble Mine. Please consider contacting them – thank them for their support and encourage them to do whatever they can before a permit is signed.
“Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition and we’ll all stay free” –From the popular WWII song.