Dam Logic: If Fish can't Swim,
by Uko Gorter
"To them, any intervention of the federal government must be a bad thing."
Editor, The Times:
In "Fish and dams: Tell it to the judge" [Times editorial column, Nov. 30], Lance Dickie expresses skepticism about the link between removing four lower Snake River dams and restoring endangered southern resident killer whales.
Millions of chinook historically returned to the mouth of the Columbia River in the winter months, when these orcas are typically absent from the inland waters. Despite the name "resident," they do not stick around Puget Sound all year. They certainly relied on the abundant runs of salmon that once returned to the mouth of the Columbia, and to this day researchers see those whales feeding at the river mouth.
Unfortunately, they are not finding fish in the numbers they once did. Currently, only 1 percent of the historic runs return to the Columbia/Snake Basin. That drastic decrease in prey availability, especially during winter, helps to explain why the southern residents lost nearly 20 percent of their population between 1995 and 2001.
Scientists say removing four outdated dams on the Snake is the most reliable way to get salmon abundance, which is the surefire (and likely only) way to prevent extinction of the southern resident killer whales.
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