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Commentaries and editorials

Keep the Fins On

by N.E. Bartlow
Lewiston Tribune, September 14, 2003

"The dams will be breached to save wild salmon; there is virtually no long-running economic reason to keep them standing. Economic arguments against removal are trivial." So states former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt.

Please could we consider the facts? "Wild" salmon and hatchery salmon have identical DNA. No genetic differences exist. In fact, the only distinguishing difference is the tiny clipped off adipose fin on the hatchery salmon.

I have a great idea. Let's stop cutting off this fin. The salmon are the same; let them look the same. The fisherman, the environmentalists, the Sierra Club, Democrats, Republicans will only know that after the smolts have spent three years in the ocean, they will return as salmon to the Snake to spawn just like they have been doing, in record numbers, with the dams in place. More salmon have returned the last two years than have ever returned in any two years since records were first kept in 1938, before the dams were built.

One hundred ten million bushels of grain are moved each year through the Snake River dams to Portland (3 million tons of grain, see snaketon.htm). That would require 385 semi-truck loads every work day of the year to move the grain now going by barge. Do we really want to compete with 770 semis every day while traveling Highway 12 to Portland? (Those 385 loaded semis have to return so full or empty they're on the road).

You cannot add that load to Highway 12 without affecting maintenance costs and traffic accidents. And all of this over a tiny clipped off adipose fin. Give me a break.

N.E. Bartlow, Pomeroy
Keep the Fins On, Boise
Lewiston Tribune, September 14, 2003

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