Snake River among most endangered rivers in US

Environmental advocates argued that a system of dams along the lower part of the Snake River is dedicating decimating the salmon populations in the Pacific Northwest waterway.
2:35 | 04/23/21

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Transcript for Snake River among most endangered rivers in US
On climate, our series continues tonight. The endangered river in the U.S. Tonight, the battle over the snake river in the U.S. Some ranking it the most endangered in the country. The salmon population near extinction. What's behind this? Kayna wit worth on the river tonight. Reporter: Tonight, an urgent report from a conservation group, naming the ten most endangered rivers in the U.S., with the snake river topping the list. Environmental advocates arguing a system of dams along the lower part of the pacific northwest waterway is decimating the salmon population. They've never been closer to extinction than they are today. We've got to remove the four dams on the lower snake river. Reporter: Fishing generates more than $5 biion annually in the region, supporting more than 36,000 jobs. When people don't come to fish, then the cash registers aren't ringing,and that's had a pretty big economic impact. Reporter: But the dams are at the center of a decades-long debate in four states. The snake river, running more than a thousand miles starting in Wyoming, through Idaho and Oregon. It then enters Washington, where it winds through 5 million acres of farmland. This river is the lifeblood of this region. The calm water allows for 10% of the nation's wheat exports to be transported by barge, a system viewed by farmers as environmentally friendly and cost effective. By your estimation, if those dams were breached, your profits wouldn't be cut in half, they would be almost gone. There's a very slim margin of profits in wheat, and so yes, it would be impossible to continue to be able to produce. Reporter: But the nez Perce tribe, who have been synonymous with the land for centuries, believe with technology, humans can adapt but the salmon cannot, and without them, their way of life and their culture would disappear. And if the salmon are gone, that's the way we go too. Reporter: Idaho Republican Mike Simpson wants to be $33.5 million earmarked to help save the snake river. His concept includes removing those dams, and he is being met with opposition. Some call that plan costly and foolish. But the question remains, if not now, when? David? Kayna Whitworth reporting on the snake river tonight. Thank you. For a full list of top ten endangered rivers in America, we have it at abcnews.com for you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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