Columbia River Treaty

News about the Columbia River Treaty.

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The first two days of negotiations on modernizing the Columbia River Treaty between the US and Canada have concluded.

The United States and Canada began negotiations this week to modernize the Columbia River Treaty. During two days of talks, the U.S. and Canadian negotiators discussed objectives and reaffirmed the spirit of cooperation between the two countries.

Washington Historical Society

Fish experts, scientists and tribal leaders came together in Spokane last week to discuss plans to try to reintroduce salmon and steelhead in the waters of the upper Columbia River. Ever since the creation of upper Columbia River dams, the salmon runs ended in that portion of the river. Now some 70 plus years later, there are plans to see if those runs can be restored.

A little-known fact about Columbia River dams is that a valuable chunk of the power generated on the U.S. side goes to Canada under an international treaty.

Flickr: Five Acre Geographic
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The number of returning fall Chinook salmon on the Columbia River this fall has taken a dramatic upswing. Over the weekend, 107,000 Chinook climbed the fish ladder at Bonneville Dam.

A spokesperson with the Columbia Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, Sara Thompson says those numbers set a new record. She says "those are the highest numbers over Bonneville Dam since it’s construction.”

Thompson says the record number of returning fish is excellent news for Colombia River Tribes and their fisheries, and she attributes the improvement in the runs to a number of factors.

When the Columbia River treaty was signed back in 1964, Native American tribes were not consulted. Now, several tribal officials are asking that that they be included in negotiations to renew the treaty.

Area Native Americans met in Spokane this week to discuss various options available to increase salmon runs in the Columbia River. The talks are aimed at eventually getting such discussions included in negotiations for the Columbia River treaty between the US and Canada.