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Commentaries and editorials

Barging Has a 30-Year History of Failure

by Bert Bowler
Idaho Statesman, January 24, 2011

In her Jan. 2 letter, Terry Flores, executive director of Northwest River Partners, once again relies on misinformation.

According to her, the dams on the lower Snake River are getting a bum rap. Barging juvenile fish, habitat restoration, hatchery reforms, etc., have resulted in higher fish survival than before the dams were built. Therefore, "any suggestion of removing the dams is simply nonsensical." Pure hogwash.

Barging has a 30-year history of failure. Even the Bonneville Power Administration has been forced to admit the superior survival benefits of spill.

Idaho supports the largest area of pristine salmon habitat in the lower 48. A handful of minuscule habitat improvement projects are irrelevant and divert attention from dam-related mortality.

There is little foundation to Flores' statement that "fish survivals as reported by NOAA are higher than before the Snake River dams were constructed." Measuring survival in the reservoirs does not account for the cumulative stress from the dams, reservoirs and barges that smolts endure when they enter the Pacific Ocean.

If present survival (smolt condition) in the reservoirs was consistently as high as pre-dam river survival Idaho wild salmon and steelhead would not be listed under the Endangered Species Act.

Bert Bowler, Snake River Salmon Solutions, Boise
Barging Has a 30-Year History of Failure
Idaho Statesman, January 24, 2011

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