By Chris Hager, Executive Director
Chris Hager is the executive director of the Association of Northwest Steelheaders. He was also appointed by Gov. Brown to serve on the Oregon Conservation and Recreation Advisory Committee and volunteers with the local chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. He recently published a letter to the editor in The Columbian on June 20, 2021 highlighting the need for lower Snake River dam removal in order to save wild salmon and steelhead populations from extinction.
J ustin Hayes’ recent op-ed “Will leaders fail salmon once again?” is spot-on (The Columbian, June 13).
For decades, we have known that the four lower Snake River dams are devastating salmon. Collectively, they directly kill 30 percent or more of Idaho’s juvenile salmon before they reach the Columbia River. They block access to the coldest, most pristine salmon habitat in the Lower 48, and they are the primary source of heat pollution in the main stem Columbia River, killing cold-water salmon.
All of this is compounded by serious drought, low flows, and hot temperatures, which are setting this summer up to be a defining moment for Northwest salmon runs.
As an avid angler, I am already preparing for emergency rule changes, bag limit restrictions, and season closures — and Buoy 10 hasn’t even opened yet.
Without drastic changes, many of these runs will be functionally extinct in a few short years. This is unacceptable. Our elected leaders cannot let the salmon runs that sustain entire cultures, communities, and economies go extinct.
It’s past time to remove the lower Snake River dams. Rep. Simpson introduced a bold proposal to do so. Now we need Washington delegates to engage and work out specific details. The clock is ticking.