On July 22, 2020 Washington’s Governor Jay Inslee sent letters to the members of the Chehalis Basin Board, Washington Department of Ecology and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife requesting the agencies pause the Environmental Impact Statement process on the proposed Chehalis River dam and instead seek alternative solutions that would work toward a common goal of recovering salmon and flood damage reduction. Inslee would go on to say...
“Recent work evaluating a proposed large-scale flood retention project in the upper Chehalis River has brought additional and significant questions and concerns about impacts and alternatives. In light of these concerns, I am requesting that the board work together to:
- Define a process and timeline for developing and evaluating a basin-wide non-dam alternative to reducing flood damage.
- Continue evaluating the issues raised regarding the retention project and other flood risk reduction projects and the potential to avoid, minimize, and mitigate the identified impacts.
- Deliver a consensus recommendation on the process back to me no later than the end of September 2020 that will lead to a long-term strategy for consideration by me and the legislature in the first quarter of 2021.”
We applaud Governor Inslee's decision to seek out a holistic solution that benefits the entire basin and the people living within it including the Confederated Tribes of Chehalis and the Quinault Indian Nation.
The wild spring Chinook Salmon of the Chehalis are on the verge of extinction and several other salmon and steelhead species have seen precipitous declines, leading to closed fisheries for both tribes and sport fishermen.
Pacific Rivers has a new feature film entitled, Chehalis: A Watershed Moment. This film will air again on KBTC (pbs) in Washington on Aug. 27, 2020.
Draining more than 2,660 square miles across southwest Washington, the 115-mile long Chehalis River is the lifeblood of the second largest river basin in Washington state. This basin, which is the ancestral homeland of the Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis, is now a thriving agricultural region and also supports vital salmon and steelhead populations. The proposed dam (see picture above) would destroy six miles of critical salmon and steelhead spawning grounds.
A description of the proposed project and information about the EIS process is available at here
What the dam WON’T do:
• Prevent flood damage for residents throughout the basin
• Generate hydro power for Lewis County residents
• Supply irrigation water to Chehalis basin farmers
• Create new recreational fishing and boating opportunities
What the dam WILL do:
• Require significant logging and costly ongoing debris removal
• Drown six miles of critical salmon and steelhead habitat
• Worsen the Chehalis River’s existing water quality issues
• Increase the risk of future flood damage, if it triggers more floodplain development
Native Fish Society has joined a growing number of concerned citizens, sovereign tribes and other environmental groups to stand together for a free flowing Chehalis River.