A surprising and welcome initiative has been proposed by Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho).
What Rep. Simpson calls The Columbia Basin Fund could be enacted as a regional piece of a national infrastructure-and-jobs package, expected later this year from the Biden administration.
Rep. Simpson’s proposal would include breaching the earthen berm portions of four lower Snake River dams; restoring a free-flowing lower Snake would address a key impediment to recovery of critically endangered salmon and steelhead.
The proposal is also a way to address treaty rights and obligations, and correct long-running violations against Northwest Treaty Tribes.
The initiative also would make investments in infrastructure, reliable clean energy and an affordable electric power system.
Even the Columbia-Snake River Irrigators Association, which represents farmers who irrigate with water from the Snake River, are cautiously supportive of Simpson’s proposal.
If we continue down the road of studies, litigation and slow incremental improvements, we will continue to fall short in recovering endangered salmon, as well as our salmon-dependent Southern Resident orcas.
Please join me in calling on our members of Congress, Rep. Derek Kilmer and Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell to work with Rep. Simpson on the Columbia Basin Fund.