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Feds Say Snake River Dams Are Here To Stay

Ted S. Warren
AP Images
In this April 11, 2018 photo, water moves through a spillway of the Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River near Almota, Wash.

Between 1938-1976, the federal government built four dams on the Snake River. The dams are authorized for hydropower, navigation, recreation, fish and wildlife, water quality and irrigation. But damming any major river has serious implications for wildlife – in this case: salmon. 

Well before European-Americans realized the power of the Columbia River and its offshoots, indigenous people had depended on the river and its resources for generations. Damming the river compromised many peoples’ livelihoods. 


The four dams on the Washington portion of the Snake River have been under debate since their construction. They’ve put the salmon that rely on traveling up the Snake River to spawn at great risk.


On Friday, the federal government released its draft decision of what to do about the dams. Wildlife and Indigenous advocates were disappointed in the decision to keep the dams in place. 


Joining Idaho Matters to talk more about the lead-up to this decision is Eric Barker, the outdoors and environmental editor at the Lewiston Tribune. He has been covering the plight of Idaho’s threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead for decades, including the ongoing Snake River dam debate.


Clarification: In the original version of this story, the text could be read to sound as though the dams were built with the intention of flood control. This is not accurate.


Have a question or comment for the show? Tweet @KBSX915 using #IdahoMatters

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Molly Wampler is a newsroom intern at Boise State Public Radio. Originally from Berkeley, California, she just graduated from the University of Puget Sound in Washington state. There, Molly worked for her university's newspaper but is stoked to try her hand at and learn all there is to learn about radio journalism.