An Apology Owedby Liz Hamilton, NW Sportfishing Industry Association
Wenatchee World, November 23, 2006
Wenatchee World Editorial Page Editor Tracy Warner does a terrible disservice in the sarcastic and bitter editorial about the study "Revenue Stream" ("Dam Breachers on a Comeback," Nov. 16). His editorial leads one to believe that he longs for the days of junk science and corruption that were so overwhelmingly rejected by Americans in the last election. As we might expect from a defender of President Bush's position on Snake River dams, he spent most of the editorial mischaracterizing what our report does and does not reflect.
Those of us who depend on healthy populations of salmon don't actually care whether the goal is accomplished through aggressive non-breach solutions, or through dam removal. That said, being from the business community, the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association would prefer the path that provides recovery for the least cost. Scientists and taxpayer and energy groups all tell us that breaching gives us the best bang for our buck. Unlike some editors, the numbers don't lie.
One population of salmon from Idaho is extinct, another is functionally extinct and others are dwindling, placing a chokehold on sport, tribal and commercial fisheries off California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Alaska and Canada. The Snake River basin once produced half of all the steelhead and spring/summer chinook that entered the mouth of the Columbia. In the '60s and '70s, before the four lower Snake River dams were built, we enjoyed vibrant ocean and river fisheries, and tens of thousands of wild salmon and steelhead still returned to the Snake.
Today, what Mr. Warner calls success is a decimation of those fisheries. His so-called "large runs" over Bonneville are predominantly hatchery fish -- fish that were born and raised in concrete swimming pools and outnumber wild fish four to one. Additionally, he conveniently forgets that when our region was defrauded by energy traders in 2001, we voluntarily conserved more energy that the Snake River dams produce.
Ridiculing numbers in misleading editorials cannot change the truth that the best chance our Snake River salmon and steelhead have is to bypass the four lower Snake River dams. Mr. Warner owes our industry and his readers an apology.
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