The Snake River Dams: Why They Matter

We recently watched this amazing video from National Geographic and had to tell the world about it!

Four dams built along the Lower Snake River in the pacific northwest no longer produce the economic value that they were originally designed to generate, and by removing these four dams, we can free one of the most important “circulatory systems” in all of North America. 5,500 miles of stream habitat would begin the long road to ecological recovery, and every stage of the recovery process would generate ripple effects that would impact every ecosystem in the United States. The effects would reach all of North America and even remote parts of the world within just a few years, and the entire process would begin with the simple decision to remove four dams that are no longer economically viable.

The dams drain at least 150 million dollars a year from the national economy, since their operation requires so much labor and energy. But if they’re removed, wildlife populations will begin restoring the pacific northwest to a state of health and balance. The salmon, one of the essential threads in this complex tapestry, will once again freely migrate down the river to build body mass in the open ocean before returning inland. As salmon populations regain their footing, they bring this body mass back to inland environments, returning energy, nitrogen, and biomass to inland species and habitats.

As you watch the short video from National Geographic, recognize that the rivers represent an essential pathway—a circulatory channel—to environmental health, but they also give us something more: a living chart that can help us understand some of the complicated intersections that mark our shared destiny and the flow of resources that connect us. The river draws vital lines for us geographically and ecologically, but it also reveals economic, scientific, chemical, and even spiritual intersections that can be opened, changed, and restored with a single decision.

One small move can begin a process of unprecedented growth and recovery. The lessons and implications of this story can guide us as we move toward a better world.  Contact Just Atonement to learn more about the Snake River dams and how they impact our efforts to support global justice.