Lower Snake River Dams

900-mile river restoration effort

About the Project

The Snake River Restoration Campaign is a comprehensive, science-driven effort to remove four Lower Snake River dams and avoid extinction of what were once some of the world’s greatest anadromous fish runs. The lower four Snake River dams—Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental, Little Goose, and Lower Granite—are each approximately 100 feet tall and range in length from 2,655 to 3,791 feet. The dams are owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with hydropower distributed by the Bonneville Power Authority. Although opinions differ on the matter, most reputable power and economic analyses conclude that demand for the dams’ hydropower has declined and can be adequately replaced by other sources of clean energy.

The steady decline of Snake River salmon and steelhead was predicted in the 1970s by Idaho Governor Cecil Andrus as the four lower Snake River dams were constructed. Since then, fish populations have plummeted with ESA listings added, and numerous restoration plans proposed, challenged, and defeated. Furthermore, southern resident orcas are also facing extinction risk as a result of Snake River salmon decline.

The once-prolific salmon and steelhead runs of the Snake River watershed—stretching through Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana—are the largest, highest, coldest, best-connected salmon strongholds in the lower 48 states. Traveling as far as 900 miles from the Pacific Ocean and a mile high in elevation, these fish are considered uniquely resilient, particularly in the face of climate change.

The Snake River Restoration Campaign is a bi-partisan, multi-state effort to restore salmon and steelhead abundance through their historic range, meeting national obligations to Tribal Nations in the Columbia Basin, and advancing economic security and stable, clean energy. The effort consists of multiple plans, partnerships, and efforts led by Tribal, local, state, and federal government entities, and nonprofit and business interests.

2022 brought a number of developments. In July, the Biden Administration provided clear federal statements about the necessity of dam removal for salmon survival. Working to get beyond years of failed litigation, the administration is taking proactive measures to help salmon which, ultimately, need to result in a legally defensible plan for hydropower operations which, arguably, would need to include dam removal. In August, US Senator Patty Murray and Washington Governor Jay Inslee released a major science and policy report and set of recommendations identifying dam removal as needed for salmon recovery, but with the precondition of replacing services and values provided by the dams first, and that it is possible to do all. Through 2023, this campaign will actively engage the Washington Legislature, advocate for the use of federal infrastructure and inflation-relief funds, and ensure the federal government continues forward. The Murray/Inslee process complemented ground-breaking recommendations from Idaho’s US Representative Mike Simpson in 2021, which called for dam removal and replacing the values provided by the four lower Snake dams, strengthening bi-partisan positions on dam removal and keeping all interests whole. Tribal leadership remains central to the campaign, as does a growing commitment to Tribal justice and the importance of salmon to the region’s identity overall.

Owner: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Size: Ice Harbor (100 feet tall, 2,822 feet long); Lower Monumental (100 feet tall 3,791 feet long); Little Goose (98 feet tall, 2,655 feet long); Lower Granite (100 feet tall 3,200 feet)
Project Cost: estimated $30 billion
ORF Investment: Project strategic development, communications, public outreach
Miles Opened: 900 miles
Fish: Salmon, steelhead trout
Status: Political coalition building, planning, and fundraising

  • Protect 900 miles of salmon and steelhead abundance in their historic range
  • Restore Tribal fishing rights and cultural practices to Tribal Nations in the Columbia Basin
  • Stabilize finances of the region’s electricity sector and enhance governance of Bonneville Power Administration
  • Enhance boating and other recreational opportunities
  • Support long-term local economic security through strategic investments in agriculture, energy, and transportation for Washington, Oregon, and Idaho
Hold control key + scroll to zoom

Project Partners

Nez Perce

American Rivers

Trout Unlimited


Idaho Conservation League

National Wildlife Federation

American White Water

Northwest Energy Coalition

Save Our Wild Salmon

Wild Salmon Center