Poll shows 4 out of 5 Washington voters want to prevent salmon extinction

A public opinion poll released today confirms that Washington state residents care deeply about wild salmon and want to see these iconic Northwest fish restored.

The poll, conducted by Fairbank, Maislin, Maulin, Metz & Associates (FM3 Research), included interviews with 400 likely voters with an oversample of 150 interviews in eastern Washington.

According to the poll, more than half of Washington voters support removing the four dams on the lower Snake River, and they are more than willing to pay a few dollars extra on their energy bills to do so: 63 percent are willing to pay up to $7 per month, while 74 percent would pay an extra dollar every month.

“This poll confirms what we’ve known all along: Northwest residents are more than willing to do what it takes to save our region’s wild salmon”, said Todd True, Senior Attorney for Earthjustice, which has represents IRU and coalition partners fighting for salmon in court. "Studies show we can affordably and efficiently replace the declining benefits of the lower Snake River dams without increasing electrical bills by much more than a dollar a month. The poll confirms that a large majority of people know salmon are worth this and more.”

IRU Executive Director Kevin Lewis said that while the study focuses on Washington state voters, it's probably fair to extrapolate that there's at least some crossover, particularly with north Idaho voters who share a state line and have similar economies and values.

"From our time on the ground talking with everyday Idahoans, we think this study also reflects Gem State attitudes toward preventing salmon extinction," Lewis said. "Of the states in the Pacific Northwest, Idaho has the most to gain and the most to lose. IRU members are clear about this. Salmon should not be sacrificed to maintain four do-nothing dams in Washington state."

Voters were also asked their views on Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ bill, H.R. 3144, which seeks to prevent any changes to the lower Snake dams by locking in place an illegal and failed salmon plan, upending a court-ordered process to look at all options to restore salmon including dam removal, and even stopping important recovery measures like spilling more water at the dams. Sixty-two percent of likely voters oppose this legislation, with 42 percent strongly opposing. Only 26 percent support.

“Given a choice between restoring salmon and holding onto the dams on the lower Snake River, voters in Washington State pick salmon.” said Giulia Good-Stefani, a staff attorney with Natural Resources Defense Council. “People across the state understand how important salmon are to all of us and to our Puget Sound Orcas.”

Organizations funding the poll included: National Wildlife Federation, Save Our wild Salmon Coalition, Defenders of Wildlife, Earthjustice, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club and American Rivers.

A four-page summary with highlights from the poll can be viewed here.