Tribes to study salmon restoration above Grand Coulee Dam

By on February 9, 2015
A pair of coho salmon (Credit: Joannatirn, via Wikimedia Commons)

Native American tribes in Washington and Idaho are hoping to restore salmon runs above the Grand Coulee Dam, according to the Associated Press. They are proposing a feasibility study to judge how successful any potential restoration can be.

The study they’ve proposed would zero in on the 100 miles of the upper Columbia River that sit between the Grand Coulee Dam and the U.S.-Canadian border.

“Grand Coulee Dam should have been built with fish passage,” said John Osborn, leader of the Spokane, Washington Sierra Club chapter, to the Associated Press. “Justice and stewardship compel us to return salmon to these rivers.”

The tribes say losing salmon runs has damaged their spiritual connection and identity, according to a proposal they sent to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council. That proposal will undergo a 30-day comment period before any decisions on how to proceed are made.

There are still many important questions that need to be answered. Experts aren’t sure salmon can survive in the altered habitat above the dam, or what sort of work would need to be done to retrofit the dam for fish passage. And there are additional factors, including power generation and the dam’s role in providing irrigation water for crops, that need to be considered.

Top image: A pair of coho salmon (Credit: Joannatirn, via Wikimedia Commons)

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