Columbia River salmon and steelhead are facing urgent challenges to avoid extinction.

Last summer the U.S. District Court determined that the plan that dam operators currently follow on the Columbia and Snake rivers is illegal and does not protect salmon and steelhead from extinction. The court ordered the operators and scientists to come up with a more effective plan by 2021.

A second court finding said the current plan will do “irreparable harm” to fish that are already facing extinction so they ordered the agency scientists to come up with an immediate short-term plan to spill more water over the dams starting in 2018 to protect these fish from extinction.

However, HR 3144 was introduced into the legislature this summer and seeks to overturn both of these court orders and lock in the current “status quo” operations. Furthermore, it seeks to eliminate the required analysis of management options.

Guess who is one of the co-sponsors of this bill? Yep, our U.S. Representative Greg Walden. The same Walden that received $146,000 from the electric utilities industry in the last election cycle.

So, if you enjoy fishing for salmon and steelhead or you just value their existence as part of our Pacific NW Heritage, recognize that Walden’s proposed bill will allow these fish to continue their path towards extinction. The challenges of preserving salmon in the Columbia River involve many aspects, both in the rivers and in the oceans. How we meet these challenges should be determined by those that understand the science involved, not by a politician who is lobbied by the utility companies to keep things as they are.

Things “as they are” are not going to preserve our salmon. Consider that when Walden asks for your vote in 2018.

John Schwartz

The Dalles

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