This weekend, Elliott Bay is open to chinook-salmon fishing. So fishing boats were on the water this morning while activists gathered on land to demand action they say can keep the chinook from going extinct, along with another species of mammals that needs them even more than we do – the Southern Resident Killer Whales. Specifically, the Endangered Species Coalition and other groups want four dams on the Lower Snake River in Eastern Washington breached so chinook salmon can reach spawning grounds more easily. This weekend they hosted “Rally for the River” gatherings in six spots around the Northwest, and the rally spot in Seattle was just west of Seacrest. Some supporters came from afar:
Those two are members of the North Olympic Orca Pod, from Port Townsend and Port Angeles. The sign mentioning the Elwha refers to a dam removal project from last decade, considered a success. But that was just part of the puzzle for saving chinook salmon. Four hydropower dams on the Snake River in eastern Washington must be breached, advocates say, before it’s too late (read the backstory here). Time is ticking, with the presumed death of another Southern Resident orca K21. A moment of silence for him was part of the speaking program at the rally, featuring representatives of the Endangered Species Coalition, Duwamish Tribe, Environment Washington, and Orca Conservancy.
It’s not a matter of demolishing the dams, they contended – “All we have to do is move some gravel aside and let them run free.”
After speeches, some rally participants kayaked to Jack Block Park …
… while others walked.
They’re particularly looking for support from Washington’s U.S. Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, and have a take-action webpage here. The politicians, for their part, have said that any plan for the dams must address other factors too, such as electricity generation and farmers’ needs.