Will Obama dam salmon to extinction?

In the midst of the catastrophic oil spill that is crushing wildlife in the Gulf of Mexico, the Obama administration is poised to make a decision tomorrow that could change the fate of endangered species in this country. On May 20, the administration will release a federal salmon plan that will do one of two things for endangered wildlife: protect the Endangered Species Act by calling for stronger measures toward salmon recovery or weaken it by embracing the scientifically and legally flawed approaches of the past 20 years. A decision to weaken the ESA for the West’s iconic Columbia and Snake river salmon could send an ecological ripple across the country and affect decisions regarding every endangered species in the nation.

The situation in the Northwest doesn’t look good. Instead of charting its own path, the administration is working from a biologically and legally inadequate Bush administration plan for endangered salmon.

Because they return to the biggest, highest and best-protected habitat in America, endangered Snake River salmon are considered the West’s best chance to save salmonfor future generations in an environment threatened by climate change. These cold, crisp waters spanning three western states — Washington, Oregon and Idaho, will remain cold in a warming climate, protecting these one-of-a-kind salmon with one-of-a-kind habitat. Making the wrong decision on these rivers would effectively dam these salmon to extinction.

“The last cut at this plan largely ignored the impacts climate change will most certainly have on these salmon. And it ignored the unique habitat in the Snake Basin that these fish call home. The science tells us that getting these fish back home is the surest and perhaps only way to ensure salmon in the Columbia-Snake Basin under a warming world. Let’s hope that in addition to protecting the ESA, the administration prepares for the current and future harms caused to these fish from global warming. Let’s get these fish back to their habitat so we can ensure salmon in the Columbia-Snake Basin for generations to come.” — John Kostyack, Executive Director of Wildlife Conservation and Global Warming forNational Wildlife Federation in Washington, DC. The federation is the lead plaintiff in the fight to protect Columbia-Snake salmon.

The Columbia and Snake rivers may not be in your own backyard, but the effects of this decision certainly will be. Take action today to save salmon and protect America’s endangered species.

These fish are fighting right now to survive — tackling a gauntlet of dams, escaping predators and climbing higher and farther than any other salmon on Earth. They’re doing their part. Let’s do ours.