The U.S. House of Representatives voted against Idaho’s endangered wild salmon and the families who depend on them today when it voted 225 - 189 to approve a bill overturning a federal judge’s order.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Idaho salmon advocates, the Nez Perce Tribe and a dozen others with its ruling to uphold increased spill that would assist with salmon and steelhead survival as they migrate to the Pacific Ocean. With salmon and steelhead runs at historical lows, making safe passage for baby fish is critical.
U.S. District Court Judge Michael Simon yesterday approved a plan for increased spill at eight dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers. The plan was developed in response to the court’s April 2017 order requiring the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to spill more water through spillways (as opposed to through turbines) to boost survival of endangered salmon and steelhead.
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game today acknowledged that sockeye salmon from its new $14 million Springfield Hatchery in southern Idaho are dying at difficult-to-explain rates.
In a press release issued today, Fish and Game biologists said their leading theory about why is because of a difference in water hardness between the hatchery and the natural lakes and streams in the upper Salmon River system.
Before the third annual Free the Snake Flotilla launched Saturday morning, Lewiston native and IRU member Devon Barker-Hicks gave an inspiring speech to encourage people to refocus on building, not tearing things down. “We built the dams,” she said. “We know how to build. Let’s use our collective knowledge to build. Let’s build beaches. Let’s build current. Let’s build shade. Let’s build fish runs.”
Steelhead are returning to Idaho in record-low numbers and prompting fisheries managers to curtail this fall’s fishing season. According to an Aug. 15 press release from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game about 400 steelhead had crossed Lower Granite Dam and entered Idaho by Monday, Aug. 14. The 10-year average for the date is about 6,000 steelhead.