“The Grand Salmon” team welcomed by Nez Perce in Lewiston, where the Snake River ‘is dead.’

Published 6/20/2022  |  Idaho Rivers United

The Grand Salmon team welcomed to shore by Nez Perce people and community members in Lewiston, ID. Photo credit: Megan Mack

The Grand Salmon Source to Sea team is not only paddling 1,000 miles in solidarity to raise awareness about dwindling salmon populations in the Snake River Basin and a moratorium on the Stibnite mine proposed in central Idaho, but they are also engaging thousands of people and numerous communities along the way of their epic journey.

After paddling almost 600 miles and 50 days of free flowing, wild, green lush rivers in Idaho to bring them to the Snake since late April, the team was met with a feeling of environmental grief as they pushed through stagnate water and headwinds, a body of water that did not feel like a river that is alive.

“This river is dead. We have killed it and now have the responsibility to bring it back to life,” said paddler, Libby Tobey, who is the team’s environmental policy leader.

As a group of women water protectors, the paddlers and their support team are determined to be activists and give back to the river, a force of nature that has enriched their lives. The team has encountered obstacles including high water decision making and portaging the four Lower Snake River dams in four days, yet the team acknowledges that what they have faced is nothing compared to what these resilient fish endure.

The team stopped in Lewiston, Idaho in mid-June for a community paddle on the Snake River, followed by an action and advocacy event in partnership with the Nez Perce tribe in the pivotal port town. The importance of coming together as a community to work together to stand up and take action for the Lower Snake River dam removal, salmon recovery and tribal justice for the northwest is a powerful one and Idaho Rivers United is honored to continue to join forces with those who have been in the fight for the largest dam removal and river restoration in history.

“What an absolute honor it was for our team to be greeted last weekend by a traditional land welcoming and water ceremony prayer from the Nimiipuu people. Hearing the stories of what it was like before the lower Snake River dams is a moving reminder of how much has been lost and how much we have to gain from their removal. Thank you for your tireless work in protecting the lands and waters,” said Hailey Thompson, a paddler on the team.

“The importance of inclusion, multigenerational learning and coming together as a community is incredibly powerful as we all work together to stand up and take action for Lower Snake River dam removal, salmon recovery and tribal justice for the Northwest region.” said Tess McEnroe, Communications Associate at Idaho Rivers United and support staff for the team, the lead conservation partner for the Grand Salmon campaign.

“These women are taking action through grassroots advocacy by highlighting the importance of removal of the Lower Snake River dams, which has been a priority in our work for three decades. Along with our elected officials, we as citizens have an incredible opportunity to act now. Our nation can lead the largest river restoration and salmon recovery effort in history, while making smart investments in clean energy, infrastructure, and communities.”

Thank you to Nimiipuu Protecting the Environment, the Youth Salmon Protectors, Save Our Wild Salmon and the Great Old Broads for the Wilderness for supporting this event.

The team’s next event is in the Tri Cities, WA on June 22, and followed by others along the Columbia River as they make their way to the Pacific Ocean. If you are interested in getting involved or attending any events, please visit www.salmonsourcetosea.com for ways to spread the word, volunteer, donate, and take action.

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