Biden brokers $1 billion deal with Oregon, Washington, 4 Columbia River tribes to revive Northwest salmon population

The Biden administration, leaders of four Columbia River Basin tribes, and the governors of Oregon and Washington have signed a $1 billion plan to recover salmon populations in the Pacific Northwest.


Reviving the Columbia River Salmon

The Biden administration, along with leaders from four Columbia River Basin tribes, and the governors of Oregon and Washington, celebrated the signing of a $1 billion plan to help recover depleted salmon populations in the Pacific Northwest. The plan aims to boost clean energy production, as well as provide benefits for tribes and other communities that depend on the Columbia Basin for agriculture, energy, recreation, and transportation.

While the plan does not call for the removal of four controversial dams on the Snake River, which some environmental groups and tribal leaders have advocated for, it represents a significant step towards the eventual removal of these dams. The plan also seeks to address the impacts of human development on Columbia Basin salmon, which have led to population declines and negative effects on tribal communities.

Tribal Perspectives on the Plan

Tribal leaders voiced their support for the plan during a signing ceremony at the White House. Chairman Gerry Lewis of the Yakama Nation emphasized the cultural and economic importance of the Columbia River and its resources to tribal communities. He expressed the need for the protection and restoration of salmon populations for the health and well-being of his people.

Corinne Sams of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation called the signing ceremony a historic moment for both the tribes and all Americans in the Pacific Northwest. She expressed her gratitude for the plan's recognition of tribal rights and its commitment to restoring salmon and steelhead to healthy levels.

Challenges and Benefits of the Plan

The Columbia River Basin was once the world's greatest salmon-producing river system, but today, many of its salmon stocks are extinct or listed under the Endangered Species Act. Dams are a major factor contributing to the decline of salmon populations.

The plan faces challenges from congressional Republicans who oppose dam breaching. They argue that the dams have significant economic benefits, including hydropower production and support for agriculture. However, supporters of the plan view it as a way to prioritize environmental restoration, clean energy, and the well-being of tribal communities.

The agreement, known as the Columbia Basin Restoration Initiative, represents a step towards restoring the river and its salmon population, while also addressing issues of clean energy, agriculture, and transportation. The Biden administration and tribal leaders are hopeful that the plan will contribute to a healthier ecosystem and a more sustainable future for the region.