Director's Message

Without real substantive change, many more runs of wild Columbia River salmon will go extinct. We must insist our governing bodies do more.

Director's Message: For the River

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Lauren Goldberg
Lauren Goldberg, Executive Director

It’s time to get real about salmon extinctions and the ripple effects on the people and cultures that rely on them. The facts will jar you:

  • The Columbia once produced more salmon than any other river on Earth.
  • Twenty years ago, Pacific salmon were found to have disappeared from 40% of their native rivers and streams across Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and California.
  • In places where they remain, including the Columbia River system, scientists estimate the number of wild fi sh returning from the ocean has decreased by as much as 98%.
  • Today, 28 populations of West Coast salmon and steelhead are listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
The good news:

The Columbia still supports important subsistence, commercial, and recreational salmon fisheries. Columbia River salmon are also food for critically endangered Southern Resident orcas and other wildlife.

Simply put, the science supports removal of mega hydro dams in the Columbia River Basin, including the four Lower Snake River dams. The politics support delay. That’s where Columbia Riverkeeper comes in. For more than two decades, Columbia Riverkeeper has worked to protect salmon by advocating for dam removal. We also take action, suing polluters and advocating for stronger laws to reduce pollution and protect and restore habitat.

Now is the time to fight tooth and nail to ensure the government honors Treaty rights and uses every tool possible to restore Columbia River salmon. Our children and grandchildren deserve the thrill of landing a wild Columbia River salmon or experiencing the beauty of one flashing through a crystalline stream. But without paradigm shifts, there are no guarantees.

In newest newsletter, our team breaks down the creative, gutsy strategies Riverkeeper deploys to work in solidarity with the Tribal Nations that are leading the charge to give salmon a fighting chance. We also talk to Nez Perce Tribe Chairman Shannon Wheeler, a renowned leader and inspiration to us all. His powerful message of hope hits home: “It really gives us hope that people are starting to see that we can and should change how we do business, and how we affect the environment to achieve more positive outcomes for future generations.”

Here’s what it comes down to:

Without real substantive change, many more runs of wild Columbia River salmon will go extinct. We must insist our governing bodies do more. For the Tribal Nations, Indigenous people, and the diverse salmon cultures across the Northwest, the stakes are simply too high to wait any longer.

Onward, Lauren Goldberg


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