For Orcas, Task Force recommends dam removal study

A state task force has released recommendations on how to increase the population of Southern Resident killer whales, including further study of removing the four lower Snake River dams.

The state Southern Resident Killer Whale Task Force created by Governor Jay Inslee has released a list of 36 recommendations on how to aid orca recovery. Among them is to further examine the possibility of removing the lower Snake River dams to improve chinook salmon populations.

According to the task force report, the discussion should “include consideration of services provided by the dams, potential biological benefits/impacts to Chinook and Southern Resident orcas, as well as other costs and uncertainties related to the question of breaching or retaining the lower Snake River dams.”

The move is opposed by a variety of stakeholders as well as the U.S. House of Representatives, which in April voted in favor of a resolution to protect the dams until 2022; the Senate has yet to vote on the bill. Congressional approval would be needed before breaching the dams.

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