Hundreds Gather for Yakama Nation Event Advocating for Salmon

Tribe raises awareness about illegally constructed causeway bridge creating damaging effects on salmon survival in the Yakima and mid-Columbia Rivers

RICHLAND, Wash. –– On Thursday, Sept. 1, tribal leaders, local legislative officials, community partners and governmental agencies gathered at Wye Park to bring focus to the much needed work for comprehensive salmon restoration. The event was held near a causeway that stretches between Wye Park and Bateman Island. This causeway was illegally constructed as an earthen bridge and impedes both upstream and downstream salmon migration in the Yakima and Columbia Rivers. It reduces river flow and contributes to increased water temperatures and sedimentation, creating a haven for invasive plants and predatory fish species.

Leaders from the Yakama Nation emphasized the need for immediate removal of the causeway. Yakama Nation also described additional actions that should be taken to ensure protection of endangered species and restoration of healthy and harvestable salmon runs. They noted that tribes regularly work with surrounding communities and agencies such as the valued partners within the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan including cities, irrigation districts and state agencies and are seeking funding and solutions with the Army Corp of Engineers, all of whom were in attendance. These groups and tribes are partnering to find solutions to challenges in the region and advocate for a comprehensive legislative action plan that will:

  • Fund the current “Billion Dollar + Backlog” of regionally supported fish passages, hatchery and habitat restoration work.
  • Provide increased resources for mitigation actions necessary to ensure fish population health in the face of increased environmental pressures.
  • Ensure that all new energy and transportation infrastructure projects respect tribal sovereignty and tribal treaty rights.
  • Put tribal and state fisheries co-managers directly in charge of fisheries restoration.

Yakama Nation elder, Dr. Virginia Beavert, recounted salmon stories of her elders’ past which were shared amongst those in attendance. Virginia, age 100, is one of the last remaining first language speakers of the Yakama Tribal dialects and she ended by saying, “I’ll do anything I can for the salmon, native language, and culture.”

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