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Commentaries and editorials

Elwha Dam's Example:
Save the Fish

by Steve Paulson
Lewiston Tribune, January 2018

A slow leak of oil into the Snake River over the last seven months has been discovered at Lower Monumental Dam near Kahlotus. Courtesy Army Corps Recently, I visited a friend who lives near Port Angeles, Washington.

We drove to look at the two dams that have been removed from the Elwa River. What I found seems important to share for those of us who live on the practically fishless Clearwater River.

The Elwa seems to me to be about the same size as the Potlatch River or maybe Fish Creek on the Lochsa, smaller than the Grande Ronde.

Seven years ago, there were zero fish on the Elwa -- nothing. That was the year they tore down the first of the two dams.

This past year, 100,000 chinook salmon returned to spawn on the headwaters of the Elwa, according to the literature at the upper dam, and habitat isn't being fully used, yet.

Of course, chinook salmon aren't the only fish that have returned to the Elwa River. There are also pink, coho and sockeye salmon, and steelhead trout, numbering in the hundreds of thousands. There are more pinks than chinooks in that river now. We were lucky enough to witness the coho run.

Seven years after those two dams have been removed, the little Elwa River has more chinook salmon returning to spawn than the enitre Snake River in Idaho, Washington and Oregon. Imagine how many fish there would be if all of the tributaries on the Snake River were opened up to the sea, again.

It is time to remove those lower Snake River dams.

Related Pages:
The Snake and Salmon: People are Feeling the Pain of a River Lost by David Cannamela, Idaho Statesman, 6/28/17

Steve Paulson, Lenore
Elwha Dam's Example: Save the Fish
Lewiston Tribune, January 2018

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