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Bringing Back the Salmon: Bypassing Dams to Restore Snake River Salmon

Client and Objective:
At one time, the Snake River’s salmon runs were among the largest in the world, but four dams in the lower river have nearly killed them off. As part of their campaign to restore Snake River salmon, the National Wildlife Federation and allied conservation groups working in the Pacific Northwest needed to stir their members and other conservation-minded people across the country to show support for removing the dams. Letters needed to be written, calls made and faxes sent to the administration, Congress, and other key decision-makers. Yet very few people across the country knew much about the issue.

Solution:
The National Wildlife Federation hired Green Fire to develop and produce an advocacy-oriented program telling the story from an environmental and ecological point of view, a perspective missing from most reporting on the issue. The goal was to engage viewers in the story of Snake River salmon, and to introduce them to the science, economic issues and legends surrounding this Northwest icon – and to garner support for dam removal. The complex issue had to be distilled and explained in a way that people could easily understand.

Results:
The National Wildlife Federation, its 200 affiliates and its partners distributed more than 2,000 copies of the video nationally, and screened the program for thousands of people. As a direct result, thousands of people contacted Congress and the Administration and asked them to work on this issue, including 10,000 who sent postcards. The program continues to educate people nationwide and mobilize support for removing the four lower Snake River dams.

"The video, more than any other resource, helped us to nationalize the issue with the public, congress, and media. When we watch viewers watching the video, it clearly moves them because it connects them directly to the sounds and images of the Columbia and Snake Rivers. The interviews bring so much credibility to the campaign. It's extremely effective to have real people telling their story. This public support has helped us to meet one of our major campaign goals – to increase visibility of the issue nationwide." – Kathy Crist, a national field organizer for the Columbia and Snake Rivers Campaign.

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