Act now for orcas, urge removal of dams

If we wait even one more year to breach the lower Snake River dams, it may be too late for our orcas

The 2019 film “Dammed to Extinction” was shown on Vashon in June. It’s about southern resident orcas and how breaching four lower Snake River dams can save them and endangered salmon. I missed the Vashon showing, but caught one where Jim Waddell spoke. He worked on the Army Corps of Engineers’ 2002 report that concluded removing those particular dams was the best option to save salmon economically and biologically. The arguments for this are even stronger today.

Here are some facts. California no longer buys power from those dams for air conditioning: They have solar power. Irrigation water would remain available by extending intake pipes to the river. Fish that thrive in those lakes, but not in free-flowing rivers, eat young salmon. Removing the dams’ earthen embankments (hydraulic breaching) is quick and relatively inexpensive, leaving the concrete dams in place for re-purposing. has many more facts.

Wadell urges people to write Gov. Jay Inslee, telling him to ask the corps to breach the dams this year to save orcas. The governor does not have legal authority to order this. The corps does, plus it has a fiduciary responsibility since the dams only return 15 cents of value per dollar spent. It has some political pressure to keep dams, and corps officials say governors of the affected states haven’t asked them to breach the dams. Inslee has the moral authority to demand the corps breach the dams and should do so immediately.

I lived near these dams for 30+ years. I’m familiar with this issue. I strongly support Wadell’s request to contact Gov. Inslee. Wadell believes if we wait even one more year to breach, it may be too late for our orcas. Given recent deaths of more southern residents, he may be right.

— Virginia Lohr

Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Opinion

School Will Be Different in Fall, but Expect Nothing Less

I’m feeling certain of one thing — that the details, when ultimately presented, will be worth the wait.

Antonia: A Maury to be Proud Of

We want to suggest that Maury Island be named for early astronomer Antonia Caetana Maury.

Making Wise Choices, While We Still Can

King County County’s cases continue to surge to levels not seen since April.

Seeing the Sacred Worth of All Humankind

Jesus made it clear to those on society’s margins that they mattered to him and to God.

Four reasons Vashon needs a pedestrian main street

We need to change our town this year. Here’s why.

A parade on Vashon showed true patriotism

The island’s July 4 festivities made visible those working on behalf of our community.

Up to us all to dismantle white supremacy

We need everyone to take responsibility for dismantling the system of white supremacy in our country

Watching unity in action on island

Stories appearing in this issue of The Beachcomber seemed to be centered around the theme of unity.

Introducing the Whole Vashon Catalog

We hope this will launch a groundswell of strength, creativity and the will to save our Earth.

Cartoon by Frank Shiers
Editorial: Stopping COVID is now up to each of us

With a resurgence threatening, we need to take greater responsibility to keep the virus in check.