Orca advocates recieved good news this week, the Washington State Legislature announced they will allocate 750,000 dollars to discuss what could happen if the four dams on the lower Snake River are removed.
The Southern Resident Orca Population in the Puget Sound remains one of the most iconic species of wildlife to the area. But the population is dwindling. They’ve been on the Endangerd Species list since 2005 and there are only 73 left. A task force was created last year, and Experts say to save the Orcas, we must also save their food source- mainly, Chinook Salmon. To save the chinook, the issue of dams across the lower Snake River must be discussed.
The dams provide hydroelectricty and many have been in place since the 1970s. The dams produce 3000 megawatts of electricity, or, enough to power Seattle three times. However, the presence of the dams warms water temperatures, which changes the natural eco system of the river. According to Save Our Wild Salmon, an activist group in Spokane, dams kill between 40 and 92 percent of the migrating Snake River salmon and steelhead.
Orcas play an important role in the eco system and in the cultures of peoples that share the area. In addition to commonly being depicted in contemporary art in Wasington, to Native cultures along the coast and into British Columbia, the Orca whale is considered to be closely tied to humans. It symbolizes many things- both a fierce ruler and king of the sea, and, a symbol of harmony, family, and protection.
The 750,000 dollars will fund a two year operating budget..Discussions will involve Tribes, Federal, state and local entities to discuss the social and economic impacts if the dams were to be taken down.
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