The 1,078 miles long Snake river in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States has been declared the most endangered river of the country by the American Rivers environmental organization. The organization works towards prioritizing and doing everything in its power to highlight the issues that put the rivers and streams of the region at risk. Raising awareness is just stage 1 of the conservation process that helps make the rivers safe for the people.
“If we want a future of clean water and healthy rivers everywhere, for everyone, we must prioritize environmental justice,” says Tom Kiernan, President of the American Rivers organization.
There are four federal dams in Idaho, Washington, and Oregon that are mainly threatening the health of the river. The primary objective is to remove these dams to restore the Snake River to its natural state, for the salmon habitat, and for the natives to enjoy all of the river’s wonderful different values from ecology, recreation to fisheries and cultural resources. The report published by the American Rivers stated that building those dams plunged the Salmon population in the river by 90%, also violating Native American rights that are a crucial part of the treaty with the U.S. government.
A recent development on 8th April has ensued an appeal for a package to be included in the Democratic bill for infrastructure and jobs, in Congress by a Republic Party Rep. Mike Simpson, that includes dismantling the four lower Snake River dams to save the river and its dependent tribes from harm. But Rep. Simson’s proposal has failed to receive unanimous approval or support, as many farmers and some other smaller groups of environmentalists have opposed some aspects of the proposal.
Justin Hayes, executive director of the nonprofit Idaho Conservation League, and Shannon Wheeler, chairman of the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee both have different opinions on what the Democratic vs Republican dispute means for the bill and its contents. Many northwestern tribes, a good majority of which are a part of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians have backed up the plan, indicating their approval of what it stands for. The ball is in the congressional Democrats’ court, to see past their conflicts and make a comprehensive decision for the betterment of the people and the land.