Fish Counts Show
by Ken Schlichte
Re: "For Salmon to Stay, Dams Must Go" (TNT, 7-9).
The article suggested that the four lower Snake River dams must be removed for the salmon to stay, based on his claims that salmon counts in the Columbia River system continue to fall because of these Snake River dams.
In fact, salmon and steelhead counts at Bonneville Dam, the first dam that fish must pass when entering the Columbia River system, have more than doubled from less than 500,000 fish in the years following construction of the dam in 1938 to more than 1 million fish in 2008.
Salmon and steelhead counts at Bonneville Dam remained relatively constant from 1938 until the late 1980s when they began increasing due to improved conservation measures and more favorable ocean conditions.
Salmon and steelhead counts at Bonneville Dam were more than 2 million fish in 2003 because of the very favorable cold ocean conditions that also contributed to the very high 2008 salmon and steelhead counts.
The recent high salmon and steelhead counts at Bonneville Dam, together with the significant salmon and steelhead count increases that have occurred since the lower Snake River dams became operational, indicate that the removal of these Snake River dams is not required in order to maintain large, sustainable salmon and steelhead runs in the Columbia River system.
Count the Fish by Government Accounting Office, GAO-02-612 "Salmon and Steelhead Recovery Efforts", the Fish Passage Center and Idaho Fish & Game
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