In a Major Shift, Northwest Tribes — not U.S. Officials — Will Control Salmon Recovery Funds (ProPublica)


    In a Major Shift, Northwest Tribes — not U.S. Officials — Will Control Salmon Recovery Funds – By Tony Schick (Oregon Public Broadcasting) / Dec 21, 2023

    The Biden administration punted on key demands from Indigenous leaders to tear down hydroelectric dams hindering salmon. But tribes won control over $1 billion for other salmon efforts.

    This article was produced for ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network in partnership with Oregon Public Broadcasting. Sign up for Dispatches to get stories like this one as soon as they are published.

    When the Biden administration said it had reached a “historic” legal deal with Northwest Indigenous tribes last week to save endangered salmon, no one could agree on what it meant for the tribes’ costliest and most controversial demand: the removal of four hydroelectric dams that hinder fish from their migration out to sea and home to reproduce.

    Some said the deal, in promoting renewable energy that can replace hydropower, virtually ensures the dams on Washington’s Snake River will come down. Others said the White House did little for dam removal because it punted the question to Congress.

    Largely overlooked in the debate was one seemingly technical provision that is far less open to interpretation and of great importance to the tribes. Not only does the deal offer $1 billion in new funding for Columbia River salmon restoration, but for the first time it also grants states and tribes control — not the Bonneville Power Administration, which sells hydropower from Northwest dams — over how that money gets spent.

    The shift, while not flashy, addresses one of the biggest sources of frustration for tribes that ProPublica and Oregon Public Broadcasting highlighted in the investigation “Broken Promises.”



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