Former salmon judge: ‘I think we need to take those dams down’

The federal district court judge who presided over Snake River salmon and steelhead litigation for nearly 15 years told a reporter on April 18 that the lower Snake River dams in eastern Washington state should be removed.

“I think we need to take those dams down,” said Federal District Court Judge James Redden in an interview with Aaron Kunz of Idaho Public Television, Boise State Public Radio and EarthFix.

After overturning three federal salmon recovery plans for failure to do enough for wild salmon and steelhead, Redden stepped down from the case in November. His interview with Kunz will air in July on Outdoor Idaho. In the meantime teasers, including three excerpts from Kunz’s interview with Redden, are available at the EarthFix Vimeo account at

IRU Executive Director Bill Sedivy said the following regarding Redden’s comments:

“By virtue of his position, Judge Redden has followed this issue and the science of this issue perhaps more closely than anyone in the Pacific Northwest. So his position is an informed one, and we agree with him.

“In order to restore Idaho’s precious salmon to self-sustaining and abundant levels, the lower Snake River dams will eventually have to come down. To get there, we’ve got to bring together all stakeholders in this issue to make certain that salmon recovery efforts – including dam removal – work for people as well as for fish.

“Judge Redden is right. Common sense and the recent release of the Comparative Survival Study clearly indicate that when we allow the river to function like a river, salmon benefit mightily. For now that means more spill. In the end, we believe that will mean removing the four obsolete dams on the lower Snake River.”