For years the Muckleshoot and Puyallup tribes have called for more attention to the dire situation on the White River. An obsolete dam is killing thousands of salmon, many of them listed under the Endangered Species Act.

This morning, the conservation group American Rivers listed the White as one of the nation’s most endanagered:

Over $150 million in taxpayer funds are spent each year to restore salmon to rivers and streams around the Puget Sound. This investment is undermined every year when thousands— even hundreds of thousands in some years— of salmon and steelhead die at the antiquated and dangerous Buckley Diversion Dam fish collection facilities on the White River, due to the poor condition of this dam and its undersized fish trap.

Billy Frank Jr. had this to say last fall:

In 1986, only a handful of spring chinook returned to the White River, but today those returns number in the thousands because of the cooperative efforts of the Muckleshoot and Puyallup tribes, state government and others.

The Corps and NMFS need to step up to the plate and do their jobs. When they don’t, what they are really saying is that salmon, treaty rights, and years of effort and investment by so many of us here in Puget Sound don’t really matter.

Late last summer, during the return of hundreds of thousands of pink salmon, endangered chinook were crowded out. The Puyallup Tribe conducted a study on exactly how the dam was delaying salmon migration:

Puyallup Tribe Pink Salmon Study from NW Indian Fisheries Commission on Vimeo.