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I'm not going to count them to zero, at least not quietly.

- Ken Balcomb, Center for Whale Research Founder & Senior Scientist

A question we’re commonly asked: “What can I do to help?” 

Our answer: Speak up in support of hydroelectric dam removal. In particular, champion removal of the four Lower Snake River dams.

Thank you for caring about the Southern Resident orcas and all the other species that inhabit the waters of the Pacific Northwest and the natural environment in general.

Salmon everywhere around the whales foraging range are in a death spiral toward extinction, and our leaders dissemble. Humans have focused on fish as a benefit for humans as their only value, and they have allowed ecosystems and fisheries to collapse due to anthropogenic forces. It reminds me of the statement by Floyd Dominy, a pro dam titan, who famously said of the fishermen when appraised that the salmon will go extinct as a result of

dam construction: “They can eat cake.”

The whales, however, cannot eat cake. They require salmon.

- Ken Balcomb, CWR Founder & Senior Scientist



For three decades, the Center for Whale Research (CWR) has been advocating the relatively tame issue of salmon recovery based on science and rational management of fisheries in the Pacific Northwest. We have been championing with facts the impacts of dwindling fish stocks on the Southern Resident killer whales [SRKW orcas] and Salish Sea fishers.

Recently, federal government agencies decided not to remove the salmon-killing Lower Snake River dams immediately. These four dams have caused catastrophic environmental damage, damning the Snake River ecosystem’s salmon to extinction, thereby threatening our beloved Southern Resident killer whales with the same fate. Before the government’s decision, CWR spent over $250,000 on a campaign of truth (thanks to generous grant support) about the fiscal and environmental disaster of the Snake River debacle. These truths were met with propaganda from the U.S. government and ineffectual courses of action by the Washington State government’s Orca Task Force.


Learn the facts about how the Southern Resident orcas will benefit from the breaching of the four Lower Snake River dams. Read DamSense’s Dam Breaching Essentials​ and Steven Hawley’s book Recovering A Lost River. Watch three videos: Why the Four Lower Snake River Dams Should Be Breached, an interview with DamSense’s Jim Waddell, retired civil engineer with the Army Corps of Engineers, Steven Hawley and Michael Peterson’s DAMMED TO EXTINCTION (download or disc), and Patagonia’s Free the Snake: Restoring America’s Greatest Salmon River. The videos provide an overview of the reasons why the dams should be removed. Breaching the dams will double or triple the survival rates of Chinook salmon, restoring millions of fish to the Columbia Basin and giving the best chance of saving the Chinook who reproduce in this area. It will also provide necessary food for the remaining seventy-four Southern Resident killer whales.  

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Why the Four Lower Snake River Dams Should Be Breached.

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For added historical context, watch Struggle for the Snake, 1971 and learn about the conflict between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and conservation groups over the construction of the Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River. Produced by KWSU-TV and narrated by Hugh Rundell, the 28-minute video (digitized from 16mm film) is held at the Washington State University Libraries.


Read DamSense’s February 2021 Press Release responding to Idaho Republican Congressman Mike Simpson’s proposal supporting breaching the Lower Snake River dams: Republican Congressman supports Lower Snake River Dam Breaching in new proposal. Republican Rep. Mike Simpson from Idaho has launched a $33.5-Billion “Energy & Salmon Concept” for breaching the dams in the first action taken by any politician to accomplish this solution.


DamSense Chair and Founder, Jim Waddell, says this about the Simpson plan: “It’s overlooked that breaching is a shovel-ready project well suited to create jobs this year. Species that have been on the endangered species list for twenty years will not last another decade, so it is biologically imperative that the Corps start breaching the first dam in December 2021.”

speak up
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CONNECT with the Center for Whale Research and our followers through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Share your thoughts. We regularly comment and share information on our social media channels about the whales that inhabit the Pacific Northwest waters along with what is happening around the globe in the extraordinary world of whales. 

Speak UP

CONNECT with state and federal politicians and agency officials who have a say in breaching the four lower Snake River dams — Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental, Little Goose, and Lower Granite — and demand they remove these dams . . . NOW! Find out where to CONTACT the right politicians/representatives and agency officials. Find social media links on their websites. 


Speak to your elected politicians/representatives and federal agency officials and ask them to support breaching the Lower Snake River dams. RIGHT NOW! Public demand for action is needed before change happens. Find out where to CONTACT the right politicians/representatives and officials. Don’t wait. Speak up NOW! 

ASK FOR CHANGE! The Talking Points page on the DamSense website provides helpful content for calling and messaging elected leaders, federal agency officials, and government staff.

Writer Steven Hawley—half of the filmmaking team behind the award-winning documentary DAMNED TO EXTINCTION and author of the book Recovering A Lost River—wrote to several officials in June 2021 outlining why the Lower Snake River dams need to come down. His letter is an excellent source of talking points to assist you when contacting politicians and bureaucrats. Since unique messages (emails, social media posts, and letters) are more likely to be read, use the content in Steven’s letter to assist you in crafting your own words.


You can contact your legislators in many ways: personal visit, attend a town hall meeting, write a letter, send an email message, place a phone call, and testify before a committee. Find your Washington State legislator. A critical mass of people needs to speak with their legislators on an ONGOING BASIS about the NUMBER ONE ISSUE facing the Southern Resident orcas: dwindling Chinook salmon stocks. Telling them that the only solution to the salmon and orcas grim situation is the immediate breaching of the four lower Snake River dams . . . NOW!​​ 

In February 2020, a supporter of the Center For Whale Research wrote a letter to Maria Cantwell, Patty Murray, NOAA, and the other government entities that we suggest below. 

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Also, in February, Oregon Governor Kate Brown sent a letter to Washington State Governor Jay Inslee offering her support for removing the lower Snake River dams.

Excerpt from Browns letter, February 11, 2020:

The science is clear that removing the earthen portions of the four lower Snake River dams is the most certain and robust solution to Snake River salmon and steelhead recovery. No other action has the potential to improve overall survival two-to three-fold and simultaneously address both the orca and salmon recovery dilemma while providing certainty in the legal challenge that has complicated operations for decades. This option would likely provide a dramatic increase in salmon available for orca forage, particularly during the late winter when vulnerable gestating orcas may be foraging off the mouth of the Columbia River.

EDUCATE your family and friends

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EDUCATE your family and friends. A mighty voice for the Southern Resident orcas is a grassroots effort. The more people who become informed and involved, and speak up, the better chance the orcas have of living another day. Suggest that family and friends:


Inside the ORCA SURVEY Outreach & Education Center in Friday Harbor.



Together we can help

Become a CWR Member or make a DONATION

The Center for Whale Research has been studying the amazing Southern Resident orcas since 1976. But our work is far from done. We need your help to continue our studies and to speak up on behalf of the SRKW population.


CONTACT Elected Politicians/Representatives

President Joe Biden
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500, Phone: 202-456-1111

Email a message

Twitter @POTUS


Washington Governor Jay Inslee 

PO Box 40002, Olympia, WA 98504-0002, Phone: 360-902-4111  

Email a message

Website: Jay Inslee // Twitter: @govinslee


United States Senator for Washington, Patty Murray

2988 Jackson Federal Building, 915 2nd Ave, Seattle, WA 98174, Phone: 206-553-5545  

Email a message

Website: // Twitter: @MurrayCampaign


United States Senator for Washington, Senator Maria Cantwell

511 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510, Phone: 202-224-3441

Email a message

Website: Maria Cantwell // Twitter: @Senator Cantwell

Find the legislator representing your area of Washington State.


Idaho Governor Brad Little
State Capitol, PO Box 83720, Boise, ID 83720, Phone: 208-334-2100
Email a message

Website: IDAHO Office of the Governor // Twitter: @GovernorLittle


Oregon Governor Kate Brown
State Capitol Building, 900 Court Street NE, 160, Salem, OR 97301, Phone: 503-378-4582

Email a message

Website: Meet The Governor // Twitter: @OregonGovBrown


Federal Agency Officials


John Hairston, Administrator & CEO

Bonneville Power Administration, 905 NE 11th Ave, Portland, OR 97232, Phone: 800-282-3713


Lieutenant General Todd T. Semonite

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Phone: 202-761-0011

Email a message (Choose a Recipient: Select Civil Works)


U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
441 G Street NW, Washington, DC 20314-1000, Phone: 202-761-1878

Email a message (Choose a Recipient: Select Civil Works)



Lt. Col. Richard T. Childers

Commander and District Engineer, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Northwestern District
201 North 3rd Avenue Walla Walla, WA 99362-1876, Phone: 509-527-7020

Email a message (Choose a Recipient: Select Civil Works)


Barry Thom

Regional Administrator, NOAA/National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Western Regional Center

7600 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115, Phone: 503-231-6266

Email a message

Website: NOAA Western Regional Center


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