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Commentaries and editorials

Confident in Dams' Future

by Gary Bailey
The Olympian, January 19, 2018

Graphic: Salmon and Steelhead counted passing up through Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River on their journey to their natal spawning grounds from 1938-2017.

In 2018, reasonable people can have different opinions about the wisdom of breaching the four lower Snake River dams. Environmentalists looking at the river's functioning see a glass half empty and warn of the demise of the iconic salmon runs. Farmers look at the river system and see a glass half full, thrilled by the work of federal agencies that have worked to retrofit dams to improve salmon passage up and down the river.

Not to mention the dams help facilitate the use of green power in the form of wind turbines by allowing an easy hand-off of energy loads, and barging has the lowest CO2 emissions of any transportation alternative.

My question is how will reasonable people appraise the river system 40 years from now when there are 2 billion more people on the planet? America's 18,000 miles of waterways are one of the reasons for this country's success. Moving goods from A to B on water is 1/12th the cost of moving them on land. And America has more maritime waterways than the rest of the world combined. Do we want to give up that advantage not knowing what the future holds?

Although recent runs of salmon can be cherry picked to show declining populations, reasonable people on both sides must agree numbers have recovered since the sockeye was listed as endangered in 1991. As a farmer who sees the world in seasons, years and generations, I have confidence in the future of dams and salmon.

Related Pages:
Bailey New Chairman of Washington Grain Commission by Matthew Weaver, Idaho Statesman, 1/5/18

Gary Bailey, St. John, Washington
Confident in Dams' Future
The Olympian, January 19, 2018

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