The Quinault Indian Nation opposes the construction of two dams proposed for the Chehalis River basin and has requested government-to-government consultation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to discuss potential environmental impacts. “We fear that constructing the dams would add to the sad legacy of problems caused by decades of neglect and damage to ecological processes that are vital to the salmon resources protected by our treaty with the United States,” QIN President Fawn Sharp said today.
“We have a duty to protect the fish, wildlife and other natural resources that have sustained our culture and economy for countless generations,” Sharp said. “We want to work collaboratively with state and local governments, private organizations and others to meet our collective needs to the extent possible. It’s time for everyone to work together to sustain an environment that’s healthy for fish as well as ourselves.”
Tribal scientists question the dams’ ability to prevent flooding in the river system and are concerned that the structures would impede salmon passage, inundate important spawning habitat and harm natural river functions necessary both for flood control and fish habitat.
“We’ve learned from the lessons of the Columbia and Elwha rivers that dams kill salmon,” said Quinault Fisheries Policy Spokesperson Ed Johnstone. “The dams would cost the public millions of dollars to construct and operate. That’s just the start of the bleeding.
“While the financial costs of building the proposed dams are high, the costs to the natural resources of the Chehalis River basin are even greater,” Johnstone said. “Nearly every aspect of the river’s function and the many species that depend on the river for their survival will be harmed. Once dams are in place, we can expect it to cost millions upon millions of dollars to contend with the aftermath and try to protect the health and productivity of the salmon resource and the ecosystem. It’s simply not a risk we’re willing to accept.”
“It’s time that we stand up for the fish,” Johnstone said. “The evidence is clear that dams can be among the worst environmental insults to fish and wildlife. There are many less expensive and damaging solutions to flood control on the Chehalis, including further restricting development in the river’s floodplain.
For more information, contact: Fawn Sharp, QIN Chairman, 360-276-8215, ext. 329; Ed Johnstone, QIN Fisheries Policy Representative, 360-276-8215, ext. 368