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Commentaries and editorials

Habitat Lost

by Dick Sherwin
Lewiston Tribune, January 3, 2024

Lower Monumental Dam on the Lower Snake River (courtesy Bonneville Power Administration) Marvin Entel was absolutely correct in his Dec. 20 letter, "Wrong dam plan." There are many dams impeding fish migration to their spawning grounds, but they are not on the lower Snake River.

Traditionally, salmon spawned high in the mountains of Nevada, in the headwaters of the Owyhee River. Steelhead spawned more than 1,450 miles from the ocean in Salmon Falls Creek, Nev. Fifty percent to 60% of the steelhead and 65% of Chinook that formerly spawned in the Clearwater River basin once spawned above Dworshak Dam. The Hells Canyon complex of dams effectively blocked 100% of the prime fall chinook spawning grounds above Hells Canyon.

Idaho has 140 hydroelectric plants, including 37 hydropower dams. Not one of these facilities have a fish ladder. Not one.

The four lower Snake River dams all have the most effective fish passage systems in the world. These dams do not block even one single mile of anadromous fish-spawning habitat. The time has come to stop blaming the wrong dams for declines in fish runs and put the onus directly on the real problem areas.

(bluefish notes: The fall chinook spawning area beneath the reservoirs impounded by four Lower Snake River dams would be available once those dams are breached.)
Did I mention there is not one single fish ladder on any Idaho dam?

Dick Sherwin, Lewiston
Habitat Lost
Lewiston Tribune, January 3, 2024

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