Restoring Salmon and Steelhead

ICL Youth Salmon Protectors
Photo: Youth Salmon Protectors
Restoring Salmon and Steelhead
Idaho Conservation League

Salmon and steelhead are integral to Idaho’s identity. But they have a new normal: dams and development have relegated them to the endangered species list since the 1990’s. The loss of salmon, due to lethal federal dams, also violates the many treaties that the United States made with Tribal Nations, which guaranteed Tribes the right to fish for salmon in their traditional lands. Today, less than 2% of historical wild salmon and steelhead populations remain. Four federal dams in the state of Washington have made the fishes’ migratory pathway to and from the ocean lethal, with catastrophic ecological and economic implications for the Snake, Clearwater, and Salmon river ecosystems. Southern Resident Killer Whales depend on abundant salmon to eat, so their continued existence is in jeopardy as well.

Three years ago, Idaho Conservation League (ICL) and other organizations and Tribal groups helped Congressman Simpson (R-ID) develop and introduce a proposal to remove the four lower Snake River dams. In 2022, grassroots pressure propelled Senator Murray and Governor Inslee to study the issue and release a report that stated dam removal was both needed and feasible, but also indicating that the region would first need to replace the electricity generated and grain transportation services provided by the dams. To address these aspects, ICL is providing technical and coordinating support to the groups that are focused on finding effective solutions to these concerns, and working with the coalition to support long term protection of this landscape.