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Commentaries and editorials

Dam Removal Helps Fish

by Thomas Biladeau
Lewiston Tribune, July 29, 2021

In retrospect, the number of returning adult salmon was relatively level from 1938 through 1990.  The precipitous loss of returning chinook entering the Snake River (Figure 20) accounts for a major share of the decline that has occurred in total return to the Columbia -- Artificial Production Review, NW Power & Conservation Council I have heard or read a number of accounts claiming there is no proof that removing the lower Snake River dams would help to recover salmon in Idaho. As it is impossible to tell the future, all we can do is look to the past and present to determine what is most likely to happen if the dams are removed.

This data needs to come from a run of salmon not impacted by other factors, such as habitat loss, hatchery inputs, harvest or additional hydropower projects upstream of Lower Granite Dam.

Luckily, the run of chinook salmon originating from the wilderness streams in the main fork of the Salmon River fit that bill. The evidence of their decline due to the lower Snake River dams is irrefutable.

According to data by the U.S. Forest Service (2020), today's estimates of adults returning to spawn in the Salmon River are 3 percent of historical estimates in the 1950s (48,000 annually in the 1950s versus less than 1,500 annually since 1995).

Furthermore, when we compare salmon numbers in the Salmon River to similar stocks in the lower Columbia River, fish in the Salmon River declined rapidly since the early '70s while lower river stocks remained relatively stable (Schaller et al. 1999).

I would suggest to those making claims about how numbers of salmon in Idaho may or may not change after dam removal to do a quick search through peer-reviewed literature. There is much more data out there that suggests salmon would benefit.

Related Pages:
Breach the Lower Snake River Dams and We Will Lose Our Fish by Marvin F. Dugger, Lewiston Tribune, 8/1/21
Brainwashed by Bridger Barnett, Lewiston Tribune, 8/1/21

Thomas Biladeau, Moscow
Dam Removal Helps Fish
Lewiston Tribune, July 29, 2021

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