Since last fall, I've been working with the Southern Resident Killer Whale Chinook Salmon Initiative to lobby for the breaching of the four lower Snake River dams as a measure to help generate more salmon for our endangered whales. In addition to promoting this petition which now has over 12,000 signatures (please sign and share if you haven't already), I've been spreading information about the dams in any way I can. This has included writing a blog post about why now is the time to breach the dams back in February, which has received over 1300 views, and also giving an impromptu talk about the killer whales with some friends while we were down in Baja in March.
Some fantastic people from the Baja trip have gotten involved in the campaign, and have been helping to spread the message among some of their political friends. As a result, they got some meetings with some people in Washington, DC, and along with a couple of others I was invited along.
Those of you who know me know how hard it is for me to get on an airplane. For many years I didn't fly at all, and it's taken some pretty compelling reasons to get back on a plane (like, say, the chance to kiss a wild gray whale). While flying across the country will never be on my list of favorite activities, the chance to be a voice for the killer whales in Washington, DC was too good of one to pass up. With the much needed support and encouragement from many, I decided to go - and to take Breacher, a killer whale from home with me.
|Breacher on the ferry leaving Friday Harbor|
Luckily we had fairly smooth flights across the country - including a beautiful look at the Rocky Mountains, and a nice sunset leaving Detroit:
|The Rocky Mountains from 30,000 feet|
I had never been to DC before, so while it was a whirlwind of a trip, I also made sure to take a little time to see some of the sights.
|Keith, Breacher, and me in front of the White House|
|The Washington Monument|
|The World War II Memorial|
|The Lincoln Memorial|
A lot of areas were under construction, but I could still tell that the National Mall is a beautiful part of our nation. It was very cool to visit a world center - a place I wouldn't usually go, and quite a contrast to Friday Harbor!
|One of many beautiful park settings in the middle of the city|
|The National Gallery of Art|
|The display in the main foyer of the National Museum of Natural History - I was pleasantly surprised to find that admission to this amazing Smithsonian museum is free|
The main focus of our trip, however, was our meetings. While there has been major progress in the advocating for the removal of these dams - an effort that has been going on for almost 20 years - the Washington State senators still need to be convinced. The economic and biological facts are clearly on our side, but the lobbying still needs to happen in what has traditionally been a pro-dam state.
Coincidentally we were there right when Patagonia released a full-page ad in Washington State papers encouraging people to contact Cantwell and Murray:
The text of the ad sums it up well:
"Let's envision a future that works for farmers, fishermen, tribes, salmon, orcas, you and the natural world. One that creates thousands of local jobs, restores recreational opportunities, saves taxpayers money, and invests in cleaner energy alternatives.
Four deadbeat dams on the lower Snake River stand squarely in the way of that future, their costs far outweighing the small amount of electricity they generate and transportation they provide. Lower-impact alternatives do exist and in the long run, they're a helluva lot cheaper.
We completed the three largest dam removals in history on Washington's Elwha River and White Salmon River, enabling salmon and steelhead to reach historic habitat for the first time in 100 years and resulting in celebrations that echoed around the world. Now it's time to do the same on the lower Snake River, bringing our nation's greatest salmon river back to life.
More than 70,000 people from all over the world recently signed a petition to President Obama to remove the dams. But the feds want to see support from the leadership of Washington State. A phone call from you to the Senators Cantwell and Murray is the most powerful way to get that support.
Tell your senators, 'Don't hold back on jobs, salmon, recreation, savings, and clean energy. Let's take down the dams on the lower Snake River.'
Senator Maria Cantwell
Senator Patty Murray
Learn more at
If you're in Washington, please take a moment to make those phone calls today!