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Listen to Science,
Remove the Dams

by David Cannamela
Idaho Mountain Express, August 5, 2020

Snake River sockeye salmon that returned from the Pacific Ocean to Idaho over the summer swim in a holding tank at the Eagle Fish Hatchery in southwestern Idaho. Fisheries biologists in Idaho say THEY THINK they know why a relatively new $13.5 million hatchery intended to save Snake River sockeye salmon from extinction is instead killing thousands of fish before they ever get to the ocean. (Dan Baker Photo, Idaho Fish and Game) Gov. Little has made the right decisions relative to the pandemic. I see three reasons for this: First, his decisions are science-based and data-driven; second, he cares about the people of Idaho and is doing what's best for them; and third, he has summoned the courage to make painful decisions because their benefits outweigh their costs.

If the governor applies the same formula to the Snake River salmon issue, present and future generations of Idahoans, as well as people throughout the Pacific Northwest, will live lives greatly enriched by the gift of salmon.

The science is clear: Removing the lower Snake River dams is necessary to restore our anadromous fish runs. But removing the dams does not mean losing their services. We can retain affordable energy, commodity transportation and irrigation without the dams, while adding the benefits of healthy salmon, steelhead and lamprey runs.

Obviously, restoring "abundant, sustainable, and well distributed populations of salmon and steelhead" is best for Idahoans. That's why it's the heart of the governor's workgroup mission statement. Idahoans from all walks of life are hurting badly from the loss of their fish.

So, where do we find the courage to do this difficult thing?

First and foremost, this vision of the future is worth the work required to achieve it. When we look beyond the proximal discomfort, do we see future generations shaking their heads in disbelief that we traded away the richness of salmon for obsolete concrete structures or do we see them enjoying the cultural, economic and ecological vitality of our iconic fish?

Secondly, company is empowering. The people of the Pacific Northwest, Rep. Simpson, and Govs. Brown and Inslee have committed to doing the work. Gov. Little won't be going it alone.

We can do this.

David Cannamela, Boise
Listen to Science, Remove the Dams
Idaho Mountain Express, August 5, 2020

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