Everyone agrees Idaho’s salmon need our help. Extinction is just around the corner. Should we care? And if we do care, what should be our response?

Congressman Mike Simpson has unleashed a storm of controversy by calling for the breaching of the four lower Snake River dams, all located in the state of Washington.

“That’s a bold proposal for someone from one of the reddest Congressional districts in the nation,” says Outdoor Idaho host Bruce Reichert. “We decided to examine his comprehensive proposal in the first show of our 39th season.” Trying to tell this story in a way that makes sense has kept producers Aaron Kunz, Forrest Burger and Bruce Reichert busy this past summer.

Breaching the four dams would seriously affect the “seaport” of Lewiston and the barging of Palouse wheat. The Northwest would also lose 1,000 megawatts of clean power per day. Simpson believes there are ways around these big problems, but that the Northwest has to accept change. That’s not easy for any of us. The Endangered Species Act and the courts are requiring us to take action.

As the congressman says in the upcoming Outdoor Idaho documentary Salmon Reckoning, “We started from the position that there’s gotta be a way to save dams and save salmon. Then we looked at the science. You are not going to restore the salmon runs that come to my district to spawn with the dams in place. That’s what every fish biologist that I know of has said to me. The science is clear. You’ve got to remove the dams.”

Salmon Reckoning on Outdoor Idaho airs Thursday, Oct. 14, at 8 PM and again on Sunday, Oct. 17, at 7 PM on Idaho Public Television. IdahoPTV Passport members can stream it early beginning Thursday, Oct. 7.

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