Dams Not To Blameby Todd Myers
Lewiston Tribune, October 12, 2019
As you reported, low steelhead returns this year have some people blaming the lower Snake River dams. The science and data of Snake River steelhead and salmon don't support that.
In March, the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife predicted that fisheries for "steelhead bound for the Columbia and Snake rivers" would be low this year due to ocean conditions. The poor return was not caused by the dams. Indeed, during the past decade, steelhead runs reached record levels, even with the dams in place. Dam-related mortality is lower now than it was when we saw those runs.
Additionally, the claim of one person that he gives "salmon and steelhead a decade" is ironic. Environmental activists made a similar claim in 1999, claiming salmon would be extinct on the Snake in 2017. The average runs of steelhead and salmon over the past several years are larger than in the '90s, when that unscientific claim was made.
The low runs this year are frustrating, to be sure. The science, however, doesn't support the attacks on the dams. When people get frustrated, they ignore the science and data. That may be cathartic, but it makes for really bad policy.
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