On June 9, U.S. Senator Patty Murray and Governor Jay Inslee announced the release of a much-anticipated independent draft report that identifies how to replace the services and benefits of the lower Snake River dams if they were to be breached. The release of the draft begins a one-month comment period to solicit public feedback through July 11.
The report and comment period will help inform their recommendations for their Joint Federal-State Process regarding the Lower Snake River Dams and salmon recovery.
At over 100 pages, the comprehensive draft report describes the breadth of services and benefits currently provided by the dams, potential solutions to replace or improve upon these benefits if the dams were to be breached, expected results of replacement efforts, and anticipated costs.
The independent consultant-led effort to compile the report has entailed 6 months of engagement with stakeholders, Tribes, and experts from across the Pacific Northwest.
In a joint statement, Murray and Inslee made it clear that they are working to strike a balance to prevent salmon extinction and honor Tribes while meeting our region’s energy and agriculture needs:
“We continue to approach the question of breaching with open minds and without a predetermined decision. From the start, we have placed public and stakeholder engagement from communities across the Pacific Northwest as the foundation of any regional process. This continues to include consultation and advisement by federally recognized Tribes whose unique perspectives and sovereignty each of us deeply appreciates. We value the diverse perspective of the many stakeholders who have already provided input toward the independent draft report, and we look forward to hearing much more as this document is available for public review.
“Every community in the Pacific Northwest knows the value and importance of our iconic salmon runs—and every community recognizes the importance of salmon to our economy and cultural heritage. We each remain firmly committed to saving our salmon. We also know that the dams provide significant benefits to our region’s economy and communities. In the coming weeks, we will carefully review and consider public input, tribal consultation, and other engagement from stakeholders before making any recommendations.”
Following the public input period, Tribal consultation, and other means of engagement, Sen. Murray and Gov. Inslee will release their recommendations in a final report, expected by July 31, 2022.