Often times, our work can seem Sisyphean. It can be isolating fighting against the status quo. And it can sometimes feel like we are compelled by the universe to push immobile boulders up immense mountains. So it always brings us great joy when we are able to lock arms with diverse coalitions and join forces to push those boulders together. This month we had the opportunity to do that twice by partaking in two flotillas – the Free the Snake Flotilla and the Our Sound, Our Salmon Flotilla.
These flotillas were truly a sight to behold. On the Snake River, hundreds of people and dozens of watercrafts of all shapes and sizes encircled a floating red sign that said, “Free the Snake.” This was not your typical environmental protest. Sure the usual fish conservation and environmental organizations were there. But so was a powerful collection of fifth generation wheat farmers, tribal members, hunters, anglers, and average citizens of all ages. Different reasons may have brought them there, but everyone was there with one goal and one message – Free the Snake.
A week later on the opposite side of the state a different armada formed in the waters off Bainbridge Island to oppose the expansion of Atlantic salmon net pens in Puget Sound. This flotilla of kayaks, canoes, commercial and recreational fishing boats, paddle boards, and jet skis was a collection of concerned citizens from across Washington who are committed to protecting our sound and our salmon. Together, they motored, paddled, and rowed around one of Washington’s existing net pens and another floating red sign – this one read “Protect the Sound and sent a clear message that Atlantic salmon net pens don’t belong in our waters.
The Wild Steelhead Coalition is proud to be a supporter of these campaigns. While they are two different fights on opposite sides of the state, one major thread ties them together – winning these campaigns is critical to protecting Washington’s struggling steelhead populations.