Greg Stahl is with Idaho Rivers United, one of the groups putting on the flotilla. He says most people don’t know much about the four dams on the river between Lewiston, Idaho and Pasco, Washington, in part because of their remote location.
Lower Granite, Ice Harbor, Little Goose and Lower Monumental were built between the early 1960’s and mid ‘70s. And from the start, they were controversial.
Stahl says even as the dams were being built, experts were worried about the anadromous fish on the Snake. Stahl says the four dams inflict an extreme toll on the state’s fish.
That was especially true this year, when low water and warm weather turned into a disastrous combination for fish coming back from the Pacific Ocean. River water that’s too hot can be fatal for fish.
“It’s a really tough hit to see 80, 90 percent of your returning fish killed in one year because of hot water, hot water that is unnecessarily hot because of too many reservoirs in the system.”
Stahl says the boaters, fishermen, outfitters and businessmen are gathering for a show of support to remove the four dams…”to protest the taxpayer waste, to protest the ongoing killing of thousands of endangered salmon and steelhead and to come together as a community and say hey, I, a common sense taxpayer advocate, want to stand up for change.”
Supporters of the dams says they provide stable shipping on the Snake River to Lewiston and generate power. Stahl counters shipping has been dropping for years and is propped up by taxpayers. He also says the dams produce comparatively very little power for the region.
Stahl says fans of Puget Sound orcas also want the dams to go. He says the salmon that struggle to make it around the dams are a primary food source for the orcas.
In January, a petition with 70,000 signatures was delivered to President Barack Obama, asking him to help remove the dams. Stahl says because the dams belong to the federal government, it would take an Act of Congress to remove them.
The protest rally on the lower Snake River will be held Saturday at the reservoir behind Lower Granite Dam near Pullman, Washington.
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