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Commentaries and editorials

Jump Starting Salmon Recovery

by Chris Hager
Register-Guard, December 1, 2020

Water spills at Lower Granite Dam, one of the four dams on the lower Snake River that salmon advocates have targeted for breaching. Kurt Miller's article published on Nov. 12 mischaracterizes decades of independent science highlighting the devastating impacts that the four lower Snake River dams have on migrating salmon.

In the federal government's most recent salmon plan, it reported that removing the lower Snake River dams would more than double salmon returns to the Columbia River, which could recover them from risk of extinction. Instead, Miller touts a new study funded by Bonneville Power Administration -- who manages and benefits financially from the dams -- as evidence that existing scientific data is lacking.

Miller claims that because recreational, commercial and Tribal harvests aren't incorporated into existing studies, their findings are inadequate. These entities do not harvest wild salmon. Instead, most harvests are restricted to a specific number of hatchery fish, as required by the Endangered Species Act.

Enough. Salmon recovery has stalled for nearly two decades while Bonneville continues to use the same arguments to justify these dams. We don't have more time to waste if we are going to save our salmon. It's time to find an innovative solution that works for fish, people and our regional economy -- a solution anchored in breaching the lower Snake River dams.

Chris Hager , Northwest Steelheaders, Portland
Jump Starting Salmon Recovery
Register-Guard, December 1, 2020

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