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Activists Abundant at Salmon Hearing

by Associated Press
Spokesman Review, March 2, 2000

Five green grannies incite crowd with salmon song

SEATTLE -- Suquamish elder Harold Belmont Sr. belted out an ancient song of despair for a panel of stone-faced federal officials.

"Look at us. Pity us," the Seattle man sang in a native tongue, at a hearing on whether to breach four dams on the Snake River. "We are in a struggle to save the land and the water."

About 450 people showed up Tuesday at the latest of numerous public hearings on federal plans to save declining salmon runs in the Northwest.

The Seattle hearing was much quieter than emotional demonstrations in other cities, such as Pasco and Lewiston.

This hearing featured a substantial number of environmental activists who spoke in favor of removing the dams to return the river to a free-flowing status.

American Rivers, the Sierra Club, Trout Unlimited, Northwest Energy Coalition and many other environmental groups paraded speaker after speaker in front of the bureaucrats to decry the slack-water river and the system of moving juvenile fish in boats and trucks.

"We've made the rivers safe for wheat and the highways safe for salmon," said Bill Arthur with the Sierra Club. "There is something fundamentally wrong with that."

Nearly 50 members of the state Legislature sent Republican caucus research analyst Tom Davis to Seattle to make a case for saving the dams.

"Who will pay for the more than $500 million worth of infrastructure improvements to the state's transportation system caused by dam breaching?" Davis asked.

The legislators also questioned the environmental benefits of dam breaching if, as predicted, it would mean massive increases in trucks on regional highways and new gas-fired power plants.

But nothing incited the crowd quite like five of Seattle's Raging Grannies with their pom-poms, eccentric garb and salmon song. "Boop, boop, diddum," sang the self-described radical environmentalists.

"Your luck is overdrawn, 'cuz you'll never make it up the river to spawn."

Associated Press
Activists Abundant at Salmon Hearing
Spokesman Review, March 2, 2000

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