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Breach the Dams and the Fish Will Return Forever

by Dick Dahlgren
Opinion, Times-News, June 2, 2002

Governor, senators, congressmen, this year's salmon and steelhead season was sensational. The rivers were jammed with anglers. My friends and I hooked steelhead by the dozens near Stanley, and did we have fun. Thousands of us had fun, and we spent an estimated $100 million in rural Idaho, towns with weak economies, towns you publicly state your concerns for.

Up and down the rivers, anglers asked the same questions, why was this run so good? Why can't it be like this all the time? One guy knee-deep yelled, "If it wasn't for those damn dams, we would have it every year!" Others on the bank agreed. At night around campfires, in the restaurants and bars, talk was the same. "Breach the dams and the fish will be back forever."

Hundreds of scientists have reached consensus. Fishing was great because of high water years three years ago, good ocean conditions, and the smolts were flushed to the Pacific naturally, not by the harmful methods of trucking and barging. If Idaho wants more runs like this in the future, the four dams must be breached. Not to accept their findings is an insult to them and our national university system.

According to a new study, the Corps lied about Idaho's fish and the dams. We've lost 1.6 billion fishing dollars since they were completed. If they're not breached, we will lose an additional $93 million yearly. The Corps promised us fish, gentlemen. They didn't deliver. Perhaps they owe Idaho this money?

Why do you continue to support the dams? They're not in Idaho, and they're not needed anymore. The Northwest aluminum industry is dead. Kaiser and Vanalco are bankrupt. Alcoa produces in 38 foreign countries and is in Hanoi working on a new venture in North Vietnam. If the remaining companies restart, they will not buy power generated from the dams. Electricity on the open market is 30 to 40 percent cheaper than Bonneville Power Administration's best price.

Barge shipping tonnage continues to decline. Potlatch ships 90 percent of its product by truck and rail. A railway and highway exists that can replace the barges, and cost increases to grain growers can be mitigated.

Rethink your position, governor, senators, congressmen, the fish mean millions to Idaho. Three hundred thousand of us love fishing. We want our salmon and steelhead back every year, like it was this year.

Dick Dahlgren, Ketchum
Breach the Dams and the Fish Will Return Forever
Times-News, June 2, 2002

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