Sportfishing Org, Nez Perce React To Inslee-Murray Plan On Snake Dams: ‘No More Kicking The Can Down The Road; ‘This Is A Moment For Action’


American Rivers, Columbia Riverkeeper, Defenders of Wildlife, Earthjustice, National Wildlife Federation, Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association, Save Our Wild Salmon, Sierra Club and Washington Environmental Council today released the following statement in response to Washington Sen. Patty Murray’s and Gov. Jay Inslee’s recent proposal on salmon in the Northwest:

Columbia and Snake River salmon are on the threshold of extinction. 

Today, Sen. Murray and Gov. Inslee called for a regional process to address this ecological and economic crisis, to honor Tribal treaties, and to support agriculture and energy. 

This announcement followed Representative Mike Simpson’s framework—based on hundreds of stakeholder meetings and outreach—to address the challenges facing salmon, Northwest Tribes, and communities throughout Idaho, Oregon and Washington. 


We hear Sen. Murray and Gov. Inslee making an unequivocal commitment that salmon will not go extinct on their watch. We will hold them to that promise starting today. 

They should engage with Rep. Simpson and the Tribes, organizations, and regional stakeholders who informed his framework for investments in the Northwest.

To accomplish the goals they have announced, a Murray-Inslee process must:

  • Move forward immediately and reach a conclusion in months, not years. Tribes cannot wait. Salmon cannot wait. Orcas cannot wait. 
  • Provide substantial, upfront funding for planning, for implementation, and for addressing the needs of communities that will be affected by the steps necessary to bring salmon back. The moment to secure that funding is now as our country prepares to make extensive investments in infrastructure.
  • Recognize the central role of Native American Tribes as full partners in developing and implementing the Murray-Inslee plan. History demands no less.
  • Build on the clear scientific evidence that without restoring the lower Snake River and removing four dams there, Snake River salmon will go extinct.

There can be no more kicking the can down the road. The region now needs a concrete process to develop an urgent action plan on a defined timeline. 

We aim to work with Sen. Murray, Gov. Inslee, Rep. Simpson and other elected officials to ensure this process achieves the goals a comprehensive solution must—for salmon, Tribes, and the Northwest. 


Following statements from Washington’s Governor and U.S Senators expressing opposition to Rep. Mike Simpson’s (R-ID) proposal to honor treaty rights and save several species of salmon and steelhead on the verge of extinction, the Nez Perce Tribe immediately expressed disappointment in the notable absence of tangible solutions, recognition of the unique congressional opportunity before the Northwest, or acknowledgment of the dire situation that Columbia and Snake River salmon and steelhead face.

“After a day in which Rep. Simpson, together with Rep. Blumenauer (D-OR), discussed a viable framework and legislative opportunity at a regional conference devoted to the topic of preventing the extinction of Snake River salmon and investing in infrastructure, technology, and economic vibrancy in the Northwest, Gov. Inslee and Senators Murray and Cantwell have stated what they’re against, providing no substance with respect to what they’re for,” said Nez Perce Tribe Chairman, Samuel N. Penney.

“We agree that to solve this crisis we need a regional solution; we must strive to keep all communities that rely on the Columbia and Snake rivers whole; and we should follow the science. These are the very things that Rep. Simpson’s proposal set forth three months ago, and why the Nez Perce Tribe supports his proposal.”

“Our own biological analysis, released last week, reveals that salmon populations are headed toward extinction. We will not stand by and allow extinction on our watch. Our climate is changing and the best, coolest remaining habitat for the Columbia’s summer steelhead and spring chinook lies in the Snake River basin. We need to provide the safest journey to and from that habitat that we can. At the same time, we have a singular legislative moment – one not likely to come along again in our lifetimes – to address that biological crisis and solve the decades-long salmon wars in the Basin. We have the right Administration; the right leadership in the Senate; and support from Rep. Mike Simpson. This is a moment for action, not for more process.”

“This is not a time for generic statements of support for treaty rights and Northwest Tribes,” said Penney. “Northwest Tribes are united and asking for genuine support. We have a historic and unprecedented opportunity to take advantage of momentum behind a national infrastructure plan and secure funds to implement a plan stemming from Rep. Simpson’s framework and further regional engagement. We cannot let this moment pass us by. We cannot accept a failing status quo. We must act and our elected officials must lead the way with us, as Congressmen Simpson and Blumenauer have shown, with vision and courage while time remains in supporting this broad proposal and dialogue.”

Mr. Shannon F. Wheeler, Vice-Chairman of the Nez Perce Tribe, stated: “I’ve heard there will be a new statue of Billy Frank Jr. in the U.S. Capitol. Billy was a natural leader for salmon and for Treaty rights – and it’s great he’s being recognized. But I don’t think he would have cared about a statue of himself – he would have cared about the fate of the salmon, and the tribal people whose lives and cultures depend on the salmon in every sense. This is a moment for decisive leadership that would have made Billy Frank Jr. proud.”

“The Nez Perce Tribe welcomes the opportunity to meet with Senators Murray and Cantwell to discuss this issue in more detail. Time is short, but together we can take this unique opportunity to ensure a better, stronger Northwest for all. We stand ready to work with the congressional leaders of the Northwest on that effort,” concluded Chairman Penney.