Snake River litigation deal is a step toward “durable solutions”

Trout Unlimited welcomes White House statements in recognition of the need for action to address imperiled salmon



ARLINGTON, Va.—Trout Unlimited applauded an agreement announced Thursday between the Biden Administration, the Nez Perce Tribe, the State of Oregon and a group of fishing and conservation organizations suing over the operation of eight dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers that have severely degraded historic runs of salmon and steelhead.

The litigation was filed by a coalition of plaintiffs, led by the National Wildlife Federation, seeking to alter the Columbia River Operations Plan, which would continue policies that are driving wild Snake River salmon and steelhead rapidly toward extinction.

The agreement asks the court to stay the litigation until the end of July 2022 with the express goal of allowing the parties time to identify “durable solutions to longstanding challenges.”

The Snake River Basin contains more than half the current coldwater habitat for Pacific salmon and steelhead in the lower 48, and was once home to massive runs of anadromous fish.

“A healthy and vibrant Columbia River Basin is good for the economy and it’s good for the people of the Pacific Northwest,” Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said. “Finding effective solutions to conserve and rebuild these species and their habitat is of critical importance to our work.”

“While it is important to balance the region’s economy and power generation,” added Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, “it is also time to improve conditions for Tribes that have relied on these important species since time immemorial.”

Steve Moyer, vice president for government affairs at Trout Unlimited, said the organization couldn’t agree more with Secretary Haaland on the question of Snake River salmon. “Time is running out for wild Snake River salmon and steelhead. We can replace the services provided by the four lower Snake River dams, but we cannot replace wild salmon and steelhead once they are gone. And if we don’t, these salmon will disappear on our watch.”

In September, Trout Unlimited led dozens of fish and wildlife groups and major outdoor recreation companies in calling on the Biden administration to develop a comprehensive solution to the collapse of salmon and steelhead populations, including the removal the four dams on the lower Snake River.


Trout Unlimited is the nation’s oldest and largest coldwater fisheries conservation organization dedicated to caring for and recovering America’s rivers and streams so our children can experience the joy of wild and native trout and salmon. Across the country, TU brings to bear local, regional, and national grassroots organizing, durable partnerships, science-backed policy muscle, and legal firepower on behalf of trout and salmon fisheries, healthy waters and vibrant communities.