On Friday, the federal government released its draft Environmental Impact Statement, taking a look at breaching the four lower Snake River dams. That draft report determined it was not in the best interest of the Inland Northwest, the west coast and others if those dams were removed.
Kurt Miller Executive Director of Northwest River Partners said that EIS, established by the National Environmental Policy Act, looked at a variety impacts if those dams were removed, including wildlife, environment, socioeconomic impact to the region. He noted not only is the EIS incredibly thorough, it revealed interesting facts about the dams, such as the dams are not as detrimental to the health of young salmon as many might believe.
“In certain stretches of the [Snake] River, and mostly above the dams before they ever come into the hydro system, there may be as much as 33%-50% of those salmon are actually eaten by predeator birds. So, you actually have a safer journey for the salmon once they reach the hydro system.”
Miller said moving forward, it’s important people remember that last week’s report is a draft and comments will be accepted through mid-April with a final reports scheduled to be released in September.
In the meantime, he saidNorthwest River Partners wants to work with others to help the salmon, even groups with which they strongly disagree. For example he noted, Northwest Tribes, which continue to call for the removal of those dams. Miller said while they respectfully disagree with the stance of the Tribes, that does not mean the two sides can’t work together.
“The predator birds that are consuming so many juvenile salmon, or cleaning up the Puget Sound, or we also support hatcheries. Many of the Native American tribes have done tremendous work in producing juvenile salmon through hatcheries. And we’re supportive of that. So, we believe there are real avenues to partner and work with them, and we’re excited about that.”
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