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Despite fears of a smoky event, 400 salmon & steelhead advocates turned out for the 3rd Annual Free the Snake Flotilla at Chief Timothy Park near Clarkston, WA.  TU members came from Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Washington and Spokane Falls and Palouse-Clearwater chapters cosponsored and volunteered.

The goal of the event was to highlight the plight of struggling wild salmon and Steelhead and the urgent need to do more for these fisheries, including increased spill at all dams and the removal of the four dams on the lower Snake River.  The Snake steelhead run this year is the worst in 50 years, with mere hundreds returning when there should be thousands.

Flotilla week-end kicked off with drummers and speakers from the Nimiipuu (Nez Perce), Palouse and other Tribes, followed by live music by Folkinception.  By Saturday the smoke had lifted and hundreds of boats took to the water—driftboats, motor boats, kayaks, rafts and beautiful carved wooden canoes belonging to tribal members—and paddled down 3 miles through the Canyon before having a rally on the river.

Members of more than 10 Northwest tribes participated, including Kalispel, Colville, Coeur d’Alene, Spokane, Umatilla, Palouse, Duwamish,  B.C. First Nations and Nimiipuu.   Conservation and fishing groups from across the Northwest participated, and the event was supported by many local businesses and outdoor companies, including Mountain Gear, Roast House, Backcountry Lark, Eco Depot and Patagonia.

Stay tuned for plans for next year’s Flotilla week-end.  Current plans include more opportunities for education and information on how citizens can get more involved in their local communities to restore Inland Northwest salmon and steelhead.  Hope more TU members can join us next year!

Here are a few links to press coverage on this year’s flotilla and related recent news:

Spokesman-Review: Salmon advocates take to the water to call for dam breaching

Idaho Statesman: Remove 4 dams, leave these fish alone, and they may be able to replenish themselves

Idaho Statesman: Everything we’re doing to replace vanishing salmon might be killing them off faster

Post by Sam Mace, September 27, 2017


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