SEATTLE -- In western Washington, the approach of summer means sunnier skies and the return of Southern Resident orcas to Puget Sound and the greater Salish Sea. For Environment Washington, a citizen-based advocacy group that works to improve the quality of our environment and our lives, this summer means the launch of a major canvass program to mobilize and educate the public about the plight of the endangered Southern Resident orcas.
Just 75 Southern Resident orcas remain, and scientists predict their numbers will continue to dwindle unless efforts are made to rebuild robust chinook salmon populations in Northwest coastal waters. Dams on the Lower Snake and Columbia rivers prevent many adult chinook salmon from safely reaching their spawning grounds and kill millions of juvenile salmon as they migrate to the Pacific Ocean. As a result, all Snake River salmon populations face extinction today, and a lack of prey means that Southern Resident orcas are starving.
“One of the most important things we can do to protect orcas from extinction is to restore the Snake River’s endangered chinook salmon populations by breaching the lower Snake River dams” said Environment Washington Acting Director Pam Clough. “Restoring the lower Snake River is our very best salmon restoration opportunity anywhere on the West Coast. We know that Washington’s leaders care deeply about the fate of our salmon and orca populations, and we’ve launched this grassroots campaign to empower Gov. Jay Inslee and Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell to take swift and bold action for orca and salmon recovery throughout the Northwest.”
During the next three months, our Seattle-based canvassing team will engage in face-to-face conversations (masked and socially distanced) with tens of thousands of Washingtonians about the opportunities we have to restore Snake River salmon and Southern Resident orcas.
Environment Washington is a statewide, citizen-based environmental advocacy organization working for a cleaner, greener, healthier future.