the film
Commentaries and editorials

Decline Preceded Dams

by Gene Spangrude
Lewiston Tribune, April 20, 2022

Boaters anchor in the lower Snake River downstream of Ice Harbor Dam.  Washington anglers will get a shot at catching spring chinook in the Snake River, but not near Clarkston.  (Courtesy of Washington Department) Many federal reports regarding declining salmon populations in the Pacific Northwest were published in the late 1800s, approximately 80 years prior to the construction of the lower Snake River dams.

Marshall McDonald's 1894 report, titled "The Salmon Fisheries of the Columbia River Basin, Report of the United States Commissioner of Fish and Fisheries on Investigations in the Columbia River Basin in Regard to the Salmon Fisheries, Government Printing Office, Washington D.C.," states that "the investigations made by professor Barton Warren Evermann and the parties under his direction establish conclusively the fact that there has been a very great reduction in the number of salmon frequenting the head waters of the Columbia River and its tributaries." (Page 5)

McDonald's report also states that "they were abundant in the Columbia River at Kettle Falls as late as 1878. Since then there has been a great decrease. They have been scarce since 1882. Since 1890 there have been scarcely any at Kettle Falls." (Page 5)

This report also states that "there is no reason to doubt -- indeed the fact is beyond question -- that the number of salmon now reaching the headwaters of streams in the Columbia River Basin is insignificant in comparison with the number which some years ago annually visited and spawned in these waters." (Page 5)

These documented statements were made long before the construction of the lower Snake River projects. And hopefully, they will be given some consideration as part of the present discussions about the future of these projects.

Gene Spangrude, Walla Walla
Decline Preceded Dams
Lewiston Tribune, April 20, 2022

See what you can learn

learn more on topics covered in the film
see the video
read the script
learn the songs
discussion forum
salmon animation