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Did We Do Enough?

by Tony McDonnell
Lewiston Tribune, October 12, 2019

Graphic: Returns of Adult salmon and Steelhead to Idaho as counted at the last dam they must cross on their upstream journey (1962-2018) Since the completion of Lower Granite Dam in 1975, Idahoans have developed a bit of resiliency when it comes to steelhead runs. Annual run numbers are always a cause for concern, with the species squeaking by during the '80s and '90s.

There was a vision of hope during much of the 2000s, with record returns and happy anglers.

Without too much reminiscing, we need to look at current numbers and ask ourselves: Have we done everything possible to perpetuate a species? As I check the Fish Passage Center's daily numbers, I can't help but wonder if I'm witnessing the slow demise of Idaho steelhead?

A quick look at current run numbers starting on June 15 indicate we are approximately 16 percent of the 10-year average for Lower Granite Dam. When you think hundreds of thousands of salmon that returned only decades ago, the 10-year average is not exactly spectacular.

As the Idaho Fish and Game Commission closes the fabled Clearwater River B-run steelhead fishery, anglers are faced with tough choices and a sense of urgency to do whatever we can to avoid the demise of a species so important to anglers across the world.

In the end, what story are we going to tell? Will we be able to say that we did everything possible to save our salmon and steelhead? Or will we look back and say, "We could have done more."

Tony McDonnell, Moscow, Idaho
Did We Do Enough?
Lewiston Tribune, October 12, 2019

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