Environmental activists plan to protest an event on climate change that Washington Governor Jay Inslee is speaking at in downtown Portland this evening, demanding that he remove dams to increase salmon counts as a food source for embattled Puget Sound orcas.
Protesters with the local chapter of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society want Inslee to decommission four dams on the Lower Snake River in order to restore salmon populations in the Columbia-Snake River Basin.
The event, put on by Worthy Garden Club, is a discussion on fighting climate change and will be attended by Inslee—who is kicking off a 2020 Democratic presidential primary bid—and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon).
Michelle Seidelman, Portland's chapter coordinator for the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, says Inslee needs to make touch choices closer to home. "We are after Inslee because it's up to him," she says, "since these four dams lie in Washington, up to push the Army Corps of Engineers to decommission the dams and breach them."
Seidelman says local activists have been staging demonstrations outside the Portland Army Corps of Engineers office every week for the last 62 weeks. The group calls for the decommissioning of the Lower Granite, Little Goose, Lower Monumental, and Ice Harbor dams in order to restore salmon runs and restore ecosystem balance.
Seidelman says Southern Resident Killer Whales, a species of orca unique to the Pacific Northwest, have been decreasing in population size over the last five years as their food source, salmon, dwindles.
"Over the last five years," Seidelman says, "over a dozen whales have starved to death."
She adds that protesters will be traveling from Seattle and the San Juan Islands to join the demonstration.
A spokesperson for Inslee did not immediately respond to WW's request for comment.
Correction: An earlier version of this article indicated that Gov. Inslee was putting on the event. In fact, the discussion is hosted by Worthy Brewing Company.