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National Wildlife Magazine (June-July, 2019) reports that the Snake River and the Columbia River Basin for thousands of years “constituted the largest anadromous fishery migration on the Planet.” Fish traveled 900 miles inland to spawn in Idaho’s Salmon and Snake Rivers. “Now there are four hydroelectric dams on the Snake River, and the salmon and other fish runs are just a husk of what they once were.” says Brian Brooks, Executive Director of Idaho Wildlife Federation. “According to the American Fishery Society, 106 runs of Pacific Northwest salmon in the Columbia River Basin have gone extinct., mainly because of the dams.”

These dams are now up for re-licensing by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Before the dams were constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the 1930s and '40s, millions of Chinook, sockeye, coho, chum, and pink salmon spawned in these rivers. Recent fish counts on the Snake River showed that only five native sockeye salmon returned upriver to spawn during 2017. The next year only three native sockeye salmon returned. Isn’t time to admit that the dams are cause of the death of the salmon runs? Yet those who support the dams continuance distract the public from the truth, blaming warming blobs (a recent phenomenon) and cormorants, and terns and other fabled demons as the cause of the fisheries ruin. Stop spending $3 million a year to kill cormorants (at a cost of $1,000 per bird) and just place the blame on the dams, where it belongs. Wouldn’t in make more sense to use the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to take down the dams that they built in the 1930? Let’s try to protect the few fish runs left by demolishing the dams. Please, call your representatives and ask them to help the salmon. 

Joe Paliani

Ocean Park

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