The Snake River in Washington, once a freestone rampant with thousands of salmon and steelhead, is now surviving under a different reality.

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One of the Lower Snake dams. Photo from the Seattle Times.

In the 1960s and ’70s, four dams were constructed on the Lower Snake in southeast Washington. For humans, they provided power and recreation. For salmon, they blocked over a hundred miles of water and spawning habitat.

The conservation and angling community in Washington and all over the U.S. has been fighting and advocating for the removal of these four lower Snake dams. Last weekend, Congressman Mike Simpson proposed a new plan for the dams that bodes well for salmon and steelhead: removal.

The GOP representative advocated for clean, modern energy at the risk of serious criticism by his party. Representative Aaron Von Ehlinger lashed out publicly saying “Mike Simpson has shown his true colors as a traitor.”

Regardless of political beliefs, one thing is for certain: Snake River salmon and steelhead need those dams gone, and if they can be traded for clean, more efficient, and cheaper energy, that isn’t a bad thing.

Although Simpson’s plan is only a proposal for now, he is sticking with it and the fly fishing and conservation industry is voicing support!

Any significant updates will likely be posted in a future blog post, but check out the Wild Steelhead Coalition (@wildsteelheadcoalition) on Instagram for updates and to see what’s happening for steelhead and salmon of the Pacific Northwest.

Ryan Rintala | Social Media @mattheronflyfishing