River and salmon advocates raise concerns about proposed Chehalis River dam

River and salmon advocates raise concerns about proposed Chehalis River dam

Conservation Northwest / Mar 26, 2020 / Cascades to Olympics, Habitat Restoration

Media Advisory

What: Media availability
When: Thursday, April 2, 10:00 a.m.
Contact: communications (at) conservationnw.org for call in information
Who: Brian Stewart – Cascades to Olympics Program, Conservation Northwest
Shane Anderson – Pacific Rivers
Jessica Helsley – WA Senior Program Manager, Wild Salmon Center
Paul Moinester – Wild Steelhead Coalition
Cary Hoffman – Vice President,  Grays Harbor Guide Association
Mara Zimmerman – Executive Director, Coast Salmon Partnership

On day of virtual public hearing, river and salmon advocates raise concerns about proposed Chehalis River dam

The morning of the first virtual public hearing on the Chehalis Basin Strategy’s proposed dam, local and statewide advocates will be available for comment on a dedicated conference line. They will share major concerns about the proposal after the release of an environmental report in late February. Fishermen, fishing guides, salmon advocates, and community members will express serious reservations about a proposal to dam the upper Chehalis River, and urge a much higher level of public scrutiny of the proposal.

The Chehalis River near Pe Ell. Photo: WA Department of Ecology

“While we support other flood reduction projects in the Basin, we remain skeptical that the proposed dam on the upper Chehalis River could be erected without devastating impacts on salmon and other fish and wildlife,” said Brian Stewart, Cascades to Olympics program representative for Conservation Northwest and a resident of the area.

“We empathize with legitimate concerns regarding floods that threaten property and livelihood, and believe greater emphasis must be placed on restoration strategies that support flood mitigation and local communities while also restoring forests, floodplains and habitat,” said Stewart. “Additionally, the DEIS fails to adequately consider impacts to migratory routes and habitat connectivity for native terrestrial wildlife, particularly the importance of riparian corridors as well as the impacts of climate change.”

“The benefits don’t add up,” says Jessica Helsley, Washington Director of Wild Salmon Center. “At a huge cost to taxpayers and salmon runs, this dam will still leave communities and landowners vulnerable to flooding. It won’t provide hydropower, irrigation water, or recreation opportunities.”

“Washington needs more transparency, more scrutiny, and more coordination in our statewide work to preserve salmon runs and protect communities from flooding,” says Paul Moinester of Wild Steelhead Coalition. “We need to make sure the overall Chehalis Basin strategy makes smart investments in solutions that will actually address the very real issues we’re facing in the Chehalis basin and around the state.”

read our ORGANIZATIONAL COMMENTS on the Chehalis Basin Aquatic Species Restoration Plan, or learn more about our Cascades to Olympics Program on ouR WEBPAGE.
The Chehalis River near Pel Ell, Washington. A major new dam on this river would harm salmon and steelhead runs and destroy important habitat. Photo: WA Department of Ecology