Dear Friends, 

For generations the Columbia River Tribal communities have fought hard to return their salmon to their ancestral homes. Earlier this summer, the Columbia River Tribes and partners took their voices to Washington D.C. to fight to breach the Snake River Dam. My hope is you all would reach out to your legislators and let them know how important the salmon are to the region, not only to sustain the life way of our Native American communities and their treaties and inherent rights, but also to thousands of businesses.

The crowd of more than 100 people outside the Capitol on Thursday, tribal leaders called on Congress to uphold the 1855 Treaty of Walla Walla, which granted the Nez Perce the right to fish in their “usual and accustomed places” in exchange for ceding vast swaths of land in Washington, Idaho, and Oregon to the U.S. government.

Whether the dams and salmon can successfully coexist has been a point of contention in the region for decades. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recognizes four species native to the Snake River — sockeye, steelhead, fall chinook, and spring-summer chinook — as threatened or endangered and, despite recent gains by fall chinook and steelhead, all are hundreds of thousands of fish below their historic population levels.

Federal agencies have poured more than $17 billion into salmon recovery over the last 20 years, hoping to revive populations using fish ladders, diversion screens, and hatcheries. But conditions for Snake River sockeye and spring-summer chinook are still dire and, limited on ideas, some federal and regional political actors are starting to look more closely at the possibility of breaching four eastern Washington dams — Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental, Little Goose, and Lower Granite.

All sides have a lot at stake. There’s no guarantee that breaching these dams will be enough to reverse dwindling salmon numbers, and if they go, grain producers lose an important shipping route, farmers must find other ways to irrigate thousands of acres of farmland, and the region says goodbye to 1,000 megawatts of renewable energy. But if they stay, all four species could continue to decline into extinction.

This will not be an immediate process, no overnight fix is possible. It will take a lot of difficult, coordinated work across all levels of government, ensuring that as these dams are removed we are able to replace the services they provided and set ourselves up for the future.

Keep reading for more on this Fantastic Friday. 

“Stay Safe, Stay Healthy”
Rep. Debra Lekanoff

Supporting Our Students 

As we continue our ongoing work to help set up the next seven generations for success, nowhere needs our attention more than our schools and our curriculum. Ensuring that we have a strong education for our youth is a priority of mine, and I will always work to ensure that Washington’s students are well rounded and set up for success.

In 2015, Washington put into place the passed Senate Bill 5433 modifying the original 2005 legislation, now requiring the Since Time Immemorial: Tribal Sovereignty in Washington state or other tribally-developed curriculum be taught in all schools.  The use of the Since Time Immemorial curriculum has been endorsed by all 29 federally recognized tribes.

This was an incredible step to support cultural education for all of our students, and it is time that we take additional action to ensure that our students have a deep and meaningful understanding of the world.

I’m proud of the work that many of my colleagues and I have been doing to bring additional ethnically diverse curriculum to Washington State, establishing a baseline traditional way of teaching and incorporating teaching tools and mechanisms that allow our education to reflect our diverse populations.

This is ongoing work that I will continue to dedicate myself to, and I’m excited for the future of our students here in Washington State. Keep an eye out for additional updates on this front in the months to come.

Protecting the Whatcom Watershed 

Earlier this year, the Bellingham City Council voted unanimously to purchase an additional tract of land around Lake Whatcom, taking another important step to preserve the old growth forests that circle the city’s primary source for drinking water.

The City Council voted to purchase 131 acres on the southern end of Lake Whatcom, protecting this beautiful tract of forest called the Bessie Timber Sale in this vital watershed that supplies water to more than 100,000 people, including the city of Bellingham, the community of Sudden Valley, and residents along the lake’s north shore.

This has been an ongoing effort to preserve these important ecosystems over the past two decades, and our local government has worked tirelessly to ensure that this beautiful piece of Washington is supported and protected, both maintaining these lands for future generations to enjoy and keeping our drinking water safe.

Thank you to Whatcom County Councilmember Kaylee Galloway, Chair of the Natural Resource Committee, for championing this preservation of one of the longest and oldest growth forests bordering Whatcom Lake. We have been working with the State Department of Natural Resources for years, and their work and knowledge has been invaluable as we expand the areas around Whatcom Lake that are protected.

Together with our local community advocates we will continue working to promote our shared values, listening to the science and learning how these old growth forests impact climate change.  

I will continue working with the Whatcom County council to explore any necessary changes, whether they are through legislation or executive action, to update our standing policies and properly value these forest lands. Our communities demand this work, and together we will protect this natural splendor for the next seven generations to come.

Caring for Our Oceans 

Growing up on the Pacific Ocean was a gift from the Creator, as she ensured I knew my responsibility to take care of her, as she took care of us was part of my cultural teachings and laws. Our ancestors would be ashamed of how we have treated our most precious place on Mother Earth.

I often go back to a detrimental message shared from past Quinault President Fawn Sharp.  She shared a heartbreaking morning when she received a knock on the door from her Tribal Fish and Wildlife Officers. What she witnessed broke her heart, as she flew over her homeland beaches that were covered with dead fish, crabs, starfish, weeds, and birds, as she knew these resources were part of her life, culture, and responsibility. 

These are one of many indigenous people’s stories around the World. We must address the health and safety of our oceans, and it will take us all working together. For me, I go back to those moments of running along cool and clean ocean as a little girl, and I remember my sacred responsibility to ensure my grandchildren’s grandchildren will have what was shared with me.

The United Nations has proclaimed a Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)to support efforts to reverse the cycle of decline in ocean health and gather ocean stakeholders worldwide behind a common framework that will ensure ocean science can fully support countries in creating improved conditions for sustainable development of the Ocean.

The marine realm is the largest component of the Earth’s system that stabilizes climate and support life on Earth and human well-being. However, the First World Ocean Assessment released in 2016 found that much of the ocean is now seriously degraded, with changes and losses in the structure, function and benefits from marine systems.

In addition, the impact of multiple stressors on the ocean is projected to increase as the human population grows towards the expected 9 billion by 2050.

Staying Cool in the Heat 

If you’re anything like me, then you’ve been absolutely struggling through this most recent heat wave. We’ve been seeing incredibly high temperatures across the country, and right here in the 40th LD.

Not only is this  a wake up call to ramp up our action on climate change and the environment, but it is also a reminder that we need to be careful and take care of ourselves during these times of incredible heat.

There are a number of things that we can do to help protect ourselves against the heat – staying hydrated, avoiding extended time in direct sunlight, and utilizing Washington’s cooling centers that are located throughout Western Washington.

Be sure to take care of yourself this weekend, Washington!   

Supporting General Election Candidates 

Last week, Washingtonians stood up across the state to cast their ballots and make sure their voices were heard. It’s an honor to be on your ballot once again, and I was excited to vote for so many incredible candidates in this primary election.

Now, following a strong turnout, we are celebrating a strong victory for Democrats across the state. While we should take this time to celebrate the results of our primary election, we still have a lot of work to be done before the general election in November.

On our last Fantastic Friday, I celebrated some of the candidates who moved on to our primary election, and I’d like to take a moment to list them out for you now. If you’d like to read more about each of them, check out last week’s newsletter here.

Representative Bill Ramos in the 5th LD 

Representative Lisa Callan in the 5th LD 

Representative Dave Paul in the 10th LD 

State Senator Emily Randall in the 26th LD

Representative Alex Ramel in the 40th LD

Joe Timmons in the 42nd LD

Sharon Shewmake in the 42nd LD 

Alicia Rule in the 42nd LD

Chris Stearns in the 47th LD

Endorsement Shoutouts!

Working on your behalf in Olympia has been the pleasure of a lifetime these past four years, and it’s been an honor to work alongside so many great individuals and organizations as I’ve worked to represent you and the interests of the 40th LD.

Now I’m pleased to thank all those who have endorsed my second re-election campaign! It is an honor to have your support as I work on behalf of all Washingtonians. Thank you to the Humane Voters of Washignton, and Transpation for Washington for endorsing my campaign!

Excited to run to continue as your voice in Olympia!

Representing you in Olympia these past four years has been such an incredible honor. I have loved getting to know each and every one of you, and it is always my goal to listen to each of you as we continue working to create a place our grandchildren’s grandchildren will be proud to call home.

It’s with that in mind that I ask you to stand with my campaign – I would love to include your name on my list of endorsements as I run for re-election this year. If you’d like to endorse my campaign, click here – it will only take a minute!

The 40th LD is an incredible place, and I am proud to have you behind me as I run for re-election to continue as your voice in Olympia.

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