Our rivers generate more than 50% of our region's energy. Thanks to the low cost electricity generated by the dams, tech companies have invested in several large server farms in the region which help power our digital lives. Hydropower generated by the dams is also vital to integrating the varying power generated by renewables into the grid. Every time we flip a light switch or turn on our computers we are relying on the power generated by the dams on our rivers.
Barging on our rivers keeps over 700,000 semi trucks off our region's highways each year. A single barge tow can carry as much cargo as 538 semi trucks or 140 rail cars and uses far less fuel as compared to rail and trucks. Thanks to this efficiency our air is cleaner and our highways less congested. Companies across the region depend on barging to deliver products and keep their businesses moving.
Thanks to our rivers, we have access to a marine network which helps connect farmers in the Midwest with bakers in China and car factories in Japan with dealerships across our region. Over 40,000 jobs in our region depend on the trade opportunities provided by our rivers. Without the benefits offered by these rivers, our cities would pay more for goods and our farmers would be unable to compete internationally.
Fishing is an important recreational and commercial enterprise on our rivers which depends on a healthy and sustainable fish population. Thanks to 20 years of hard work and billions of dollars of Northwest ratepayer funds, fish populations on our rivers are stronger than they have been since 1938. Many ports and companies who work on the rivers are heavily involved in efforts to improve salmon migration and habitat and support the recovery of healthy salmon populations.
There are thousands of Northwest jobs connected to our rivers and in ensuring they continue to play an important role in all of our lives. From longshoreman to port environmental workers to barge operators, many different companies and industries depend on our rivers. River ports often serve as the economic engine for their region and support many additional jobs indirectly.
We all enjoy our rivers and want to ensure they continue to remain places where Northwest families can swim, hike, boat, and fish. The landscape created by our rivers provides wonderful recreation opportunities. Ports support this by providing community marinas and river front access for the public. They also partner with other companies to restore habitat and help protect river environments.