Washington Water Watch: January Edition 2022

Happy New Year, Friends! CELP is entering 2022 focused on our mission to protect, preserve, and restore Washington’s waters. 

It has been a difficult couple years between the pandemic and increasing climate disasters. We hope you have been staying safe. The year started with extreme winter storms. Extensive rain and snow caused flooding, avalanches, and road closures. As the climate warms, storms increase in intensity.

We are ready to tackle water and climate issues. CELP’s priorities for 2022 are protecting and restoring adequate, healthy streamflows, honoring tribal rights and partnering with Tribes on water issues, adding and increasing water use efficiency standards and water conservation efforts, advocating for sustainable and equitable water policies and management, and increasing collaboration on water issues.

Our year is off to a busy start with a short legislative session. We are working hard in Olympia to stop bad water policies and pass bills that protect our water resources and salmon.

We have accomplished a lot to protect our waters with the help of our supporters. You can help protect our waters by signing up for lobby week, contacting your legislators, sharing CELP’s work and posts, and supporting our work by making a donation today.

In this issue you will find information on our 4th annual Clean & Abundant Water Lobby Week, additional CELP priority bills, a study linking low water flows and low salmon returns, an introduction of our newest CELP board member, a posting for CELP’s summer legal internship, an article on how climate change impacts snow patterns, and water and fish news.

Trish Rolfe

Executive Director

Read the full newsletter HERE

Urge your Representatives to Support Salmon Recovery

Salmon are in trouble! You can help!

We are working to make certain there will be salmon for the next seven generations“- Lorraine Loomis

Some Puget Sound salmon species have declined by 90% compared to historical populations. To avoid extinction, bold action is needed now.

The Governor’s Salmon Recovery package is a good starting point. The Lorraine Loomis Act (HB 1838), named after longtime salmon champion, Lorraine Loomis (Swinomish Tribe, and Chair of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission) requires properly functioning riparian management zones around rivers and streams, including healthy vegetation to maintain cool waters essential to salmon habitat. It also increases the focus on salmon recovery in land use planning for the future, with important financial assistance, monitoring, and accountability to address the urgency of the salmon crisis.

The Lorraine Loomis Act is a top legislative priority for the Tribes and environmental organizations. CELP supports this bill and stands behind the Tribes. Requiring green corridors for riparian lands will protect salmon and clean and abundant water, protect indigenous and Tribal Treaty rights to fish, and ensure more healthy and resilient ecosystems that will better withstand the effects of our changing climate.

Salmon are a keystone species connecting everything. Their wellbeing is intertwined with our environment, economy, culture, and more. Our future must include salmon in Washington.

Salmon need your help! Your voice is critical to helping pass this bill. Legislators need to hear from you. Salmon are on the verge of extinction, so we must act now.

ACT NOW! Support this important legislation by emailing your House Representatives. Find your legislative district, email your Representatives, and urge them to support HB 1838!

Fish Passage and Reintroduction Into the US & Canadian Upper Columbia River

In a joint, historic proposal to the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers, the Columbia River Tribes and the Canadian First Nations have laid out a thoughtful, achievable, phased plan to restore fish passage at dams, like Grand Coulee, that have blocked salmon, steelhead and other anadromous fish from prime habitat in British Columbia for generations. This is NOT fantasy.  If we want salmon, if we want a commerical and recreational fishing industy in the Northwest–this plan must be implemented. Certainly, we have a moral duty to the Tribes to implement the plan, but we also must do so for the economy and environment of this region.  Restoring prime fish habitat in British Columbia is crtical to give salmon, and the fishing industry, a fighting chance as the impacts of climate change manifest themselves over the coming decades.  We wholeheartedly support and endorse the proposal’s goals.  Read the Proposal from U.S. Columbia Basin Tribes and Canadian First Nations here.

CELP has been working with a coalition of environmental organizations, in alliance with the Columbia River Tribes, to urge the State Department to modernize the Columbia River Treaty to include restoring the ecosystem of the basin.  The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers agreed that the 1964 Treaty, which expires in 2024, should be expanded to include the ecosystem as a third priority—in addition to the current priorities of generating hydropower and flood control.

What does including the ecosystem in the Treaty mean?  Well, it could provide an international platform for the United States and Canada to jointly plan for reintroducing salmon to the upper Columbia Basin.  Obviously, this is incredibly important to the Columbia River Tribes and First Nations who suffered incalculable cultural, economic, and spiritual losses when dams, like Grand Coulee, were built on the Columbia River without fish ladders—blocking salmon passages above them.

Renegotiating the Treaty is also important in the face of climate change.  The best climate science tells us that the United States’ side of the Columbia Basin is going to get significantly warmer in the next decades, and we will continue to lose snowpack that provides the water salmon need.  The 49th parallel will then become not just a dividing line between the US and Canada, but a dividing line between where there is and is not snowpack and refuge for fish and wildlife.  To keep salmon in the Columbia River basin, and, for that matter, in the greater Northwest, we are going to need to work with Canada to open up this cooler habitat if possible.

Click here to Read the Proposal from U.S. Columbia Basin Tribes and Canadian First Nations.

Fish Passage and Reintroduction Proposal Photo