Campaign Summary

“Look around you. We’re standing in the middle of the largest block of wilderness left in the lower 48. All of this is protected. All of it. And it always will be. This right here is Noah’s Ark for salmon.”

– Tom Stuart, Idaho Rivers United

Redfish Lake was so named because of the bright red colour of these endangered salmon. Standing at its shores, it was easy to imagine the lake densely packed with sockeye, their shimmering scales reflecting in the water’s surface like rose petals. We were there too late in time, and too early in the season, for any slight evidence of this vision, but the migration journey of Snake River salmon is truly a remarkable, though ominous tale.

Navigating close to 900 miles (~1450 km) of waterways inland from the Pacific rim to elevations above 6,000 feet (~1820 meters), the Snake River salmon travel farther and climb higher than any other salmon on earth. This one-of-a-kind story needed to be told with images.

At 6,547 feet (~1,984 m), near the base of the serrated Sawtooth Mountains, the glacier-fed Redfish Lake remains one of the highest salmon spawning habitats on the planet. Enveloped by the Sawtooth National Recreation Area (SNRA), a wild and remote landscape comprising roughly 756,000 acres (~305,940 hectares), including the 217,088 acre (87,850 hectares) Sawtooth Wilderness Area, it is also one of the most protected salmon spawning habitats left. Add adjoining aquatic highways such as the Salmon River, the Middle and East Forks of the Salmon River, Bear Valley Creek, and Marsh Creek, among dozens of other tributaries, and Idaho presents a platter of some of the most ideal salmon spawning habitat in the lower 48 US states.

“Look around you. We’re standing in the middle of the largest block of wilderness left in the lower 48. All of this is protected. All of it. And it always will be. This right here is Noah’s Ark for salmon. But it’s up to us to make sure they make it here,” noted Tom Stuart, a Save Our Wild Salmon board member, atop Nip and Tuck lookout near Stanley, Idaho.

The issue is getting wild salmon to return. Dams now prevent this migratory feat from happening.

This conservation photography campaign highlights the salmon spawning habitat in Idaho and the imagery has been used to influence policy in the form of a book publication and a traveling exhibit.

Campaign Action

Unprotected: Snake River Salmon - USA: Build Alliances
Unprotected: Snake River Salmon - USA: Influence Policy
Unprotected: Snake River Salmon - USA: Raise Funds

Campaign Photography

Campaign Media

Unprotected: Snake River Salmon - USA: Partners

Exhibit

One of a Kind Salmon, One of a Kind Habitat

In collaboration with Save Our Wild Salmon and the iLCP, photography from this project was displayed in front of senators in the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol grounds in Washington, DC.

Unprotected: Snake River Salmon - USA: Partners

Book

Snake River Salmon

More than a dozen of these coffee table books were published and distributed to the political influencers voting on damn removal. We hand delivered some of them.

Campaign Partners

Unprotected: Snake River Salmon - USA: Partners
Unprotected: Snake River Salmon - USA: Partners
Unprotected: Snake River Salmon - USA: Partners
Unprotected: Snake River Salmon - USA: Partners
Unprotected: Snake River Salmon - USA: Partners
Unprotected: Snake River Salmon - USA: Partners

Related Links

Support This Campaign

Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition (SOS) is working to restore wild salmon to the Snake River basin by advocating for the removal of four high-cost low-value dams on the lower Snake River, which currently impede salmon from traveling from the ocean back to their home rivers where they spawn. Neil’s Snake basin photos were displayed in the U.S. Capitol, journalism conferences, and public receptions in the Northwest where his artwork brought the beauty and value of imperiled Snake River salmon to decision-makers, reporters, and the general public. His stunning pictures have been instrumental is demonstrating to elected officials and the public that the habitat is there to support the return of wild salmon and Steelhead to the Snake River basin—if we give them a chance to get there.

Sam Mace, Inland Northwest Director, Save Our Wild Salmon