the film
Commentaries and editorials

Breach Snake Dams;
Leave Birds Alone

by Joe Paliani
Chinook Observer, August 15, 2019

Double Crested Cormorant juvenile. Regarding Aug. 14 article on about cormorants:

The dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers are killing our native salmon species. The Army Corps of Engineers has falsely blamed cormorants for declining salmon runs. A study conducted by ECONorthwest determined that the dams, including the four dams on the Snake River, are the cause of salmon declines and should be breached immediately. The Corps cannot know what is causing the decline of our native salmon species. They use faulty methods in cost-benefit analyses by excluding non-use values.

"This policy is out of step with all other federal agencies, including the Bureau of Reclamation, which used an evaluation of non-use values as a basis for removing four dams on the Klamath River," the study says. It is clear that non-use values are the key to measuring the true benefits of dam removal. These values are valid and must be considered, and overwhelmingly provide a justification for removing the Lower Snake River Dams.

Bob Sallinger of the Audubon Society says targeting cormorants was just a way for the Corps to avoid addressing the number one killer of salmon: The network of dams in the Columbia River watershed. "This was never about protecting salmon," Sallinger said. "This was always about scapegoating birds to avoid the real challenges the Corps needs to face up to. And the result has been a stunning failure, whether you care about birds or fish."

Dan Roby, professor of wildlife ecology at Oregon State University, hired by the Corps during the planning phase to study the potential effects of chasing cormorants off East Sand Island, said, "If there's a place in the Columbia River estuary where it would be best for cormorants to nest -- and by best, I mean their effect on salmon and steelhead survival -- it would be East Sand Island."

And yet the Corps shot and killed more than 7,000 cormorants and destroyed thousands of their eggs and nests, until, frightened, the remaining birds fled East Sand Island to nest where the Corps could not legally kill them, under the Astoria-Megler Bridge. The Corps misled the public by misuse of scientific evidence, blaming birds instead of the real killers of the salmon, the dams. Getting rid of the dams will give the native salmon a chance to return.

The Corps and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should come to their senses, stop killing birds, and turn to more sane and socially beneficial endeavors. Thank you.

Related Pages:
Killing Cormorants by Gosia Wozniacka, Chinook Observer, 8/13/19

Joe Paliani, Ocean Park
Breach Snake Dams; Leave Birds Alone
Chinook Observer, August 15, 2019

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