Our summer had a searing start, with temperatures soaring to close to 117 degrees in many parts of Washington and Oregon, threatening our health, shutting down local businesses and canceling events. River temperatures are also heating up due to these unsustainable temperatures with expected impacts on salmon runs throughout the region as reported in “Record heat, drought threaten even the toughest survivors: L25, the oldest orca, and the winter Chinook she depends on” [July 7, Environment].

This means trouble for salmon, orcas, tribes and our communities. Columbia River salmon runs are on the brink of extinction because of the cumulative negative impacts of the Lower Snake River dams. Salmon require cold, free-flowing water to survive. There’s a unique merging of both crisis and opportunity. If we act now to remove dams, we can have abundant salmon and steelhead, agriculture, clean energy and strengthen our local economy. Inaction is the ally of extinction for Columbia/Snake River salmon, the orcas that depend on salmon and the tribes of the Northwest.

We urgently need members of Congress to work together to shape an infrastructure proposal similar to that of Idaho’s U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson and create a more prosperous and sustainable future for the Northwest.

Rein Attemann, Seattle