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Wednesday, September 18, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Dam opponents organize ‘Free the Snake Flotilla’ Sept. 8-9

A flotilla of paddlers stage in front of Lower Granite Dam in a peaceful protest to promote removing the four lower Snake River dams. (Bart Rayniak)
A flotilla of paddlers stage in front of Lower Granite Dam in a peaceful protest to promote removing the four lower Snake River dams. (Bart Rayniak)

RIVERS – Wild fish and conservation groups calling for removal of Snake River Dams are organizing the third annual Free the Snake Flotilla on Sept. 8-9 based out of Chief Timothy State Park at Clarkston, Washington.

Sam Mace of Save our Wild Salmon said she expects hundreds of people including tribal members, anglers, business owners, conservationists, outfitters and recreational boaters to join the flotilla from the state park for a six-mile roundtrip paddle and rally on the river in support of removing the four lower Snake River dams.

The rally, organized by a coalition of groups listed at, will open at 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8, at Chief Timothy Park with tribal drummers, guest speakers, live music and camping. The flotilla is set for Saturday starting at 10 a.m. followed by music back at the park.

“Snake River wild salmon and steelhead returns have plummeted since the lower Snake River dams were built between 1960-1975,” Mace says in a media release. “With climate change, the impacts of the dams and hot reservoirs are growing worse.”

Removing the four lower Snake River Dams would allow the river to flow free for 140 miles to the Columbia to help assure more natural migrations and long-term survival of steelhead and salmon.

Proponents of maintaining the lower Snake River Dams held a Snake River Family Festival rally in May to support their view that the dams provide hydropower and barging routes essential to the region.

Dam opponents say the hydropower provided by the dams can be replaced by conservation and other sources.

Meanwhile, the Columbia Riverkeeper this summer released a report on computer modeling indicating that Lower Snake River dams caused dangerously warm water in 2015 contributing to problems with salmon migration. In 2015, warm water flowing in the Snake and Columbia rivers contributed to the death of 250,000 sockeye salmon in the Columbia River basin as well as to the poor returns of steelhead to the rivers in 2016 and 2017. 

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Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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