Letting the Lower Snake River Flow

Will four contested dams on Washington's Lower Snake River ever come out?

Westslope Cutthroat Trout     Photo: Trout Unlimited

These fish go all the way up to Redfish Lake, at 6,500 feet, 900 miles from the ocean. It's a natural phenomenon with no parallel anywhere in the world. The evidence is quite clear that were we to remove four dams on the Snake River, fish teetering on extinction could be rescued. The only way the dams will come down is by congressional authorization, but the administration has the bully pulpit and ought to be using it. This administration is failing on that account, just as previous administrations have. I'm not suggesting that we were free of blame in the Clinton years. At the very early stages of this analysis, it was not clear to me that dam removal was the only option. Having said that, we should have been more aggressive about getting this issue into the open. We now have 12 years of analysis, and public opinion is evolving. The case for the removal of these dams is so strong, I have no doubt they will come down. It isn't going to happen in the next five years. But I think there's a good chance it will in 20.

—AS TOLD TO GRAYSON SCHAFFER

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