Flotilla raises awareness for the salmon and breaching of the dams

Posted at 2:50 PM, Aug 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-08 22:52:00-04

BOISE, Idaho — Last spring Idaho Rep. Mike Simpson came up with a $33.5 billion plan to breach four dams on the lower Snake River.

Simpson's plan was met in opposition from the Idaho Farm Bureau. But for conservationists, his proposal gave them hope as many people believe breaching the dams remains the last hope for bringing back the salmon run.

Across the northwest, six different flotillas happened on Saturday, including one on the Boise River.

Rally the River, organized regionally by Our Northwest Opportunity, aims to raise awareness for salmon while also showing support for Simpson's plan to breach the dams, the one in Boise was organized by the Idaho Conservation League.

"We were stoked we are excited about the possibility of breaching the dams," said Rachel Brinkley of the ICL. "It’s the final hour for Idaho salmon without this they are facing extinction."

People came out to float the river, including some students at Idaho State University who drove from Pocatello to show their support.

"I have a lot of good friends over at Idaho State that are part of the American Fishery Society," said Troy Tetrault. "A lot of those guys over there are really into the topic and they kind of pulled me into it."

Salmon have to navigate eight dams to make it to the ocean and back to their spawning grounds in Idaho, while many other factors contribute to historical lows with the salmon run, scientists believe removing the dams could make a difference.

The government spent billions of dollars trying to find ways to help the salmon migration, but none of them have worked and there is no guarantee removing the dams will work either.

In early June the Idaho Fish and Game transported more than 200 sockeye salmon from Lower Granite Dam, one of the four proposed dams to be breached, to the Eagle fish hatchery to save these fish from dying because of elevated water temperature.

"Salmon are a keystone species which essentially means that they are extra important to the ecosystem so over 127 different animal and plant species depend on salmon for part of their life cycle," said Brinkley. "Historically salmon were very important to the tribes in the area and we have a bunch of fishing communities in the state like Salmon and Riggins that have been negatively impacted by the loss of salmon."

The floaters made signs and floated down the Boise River on a Saturday to try and get other people floating the river and walking on the Greenbelt to take an interest in Idaho salmon.

“I think it is really cool that we are getting to meet all these different people," said Tetrault. "People of different ages different genders all from across the state coming in support of Idaho salmon."