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Living in Confusing Times

by G. I. Wilson
Keizer Times, July 3, 2008

Let's take a look at some of the confusion that currently reigns. Most steelhead and salmon anglers want more hatchery fish. They want to catch fish they can eat. Other groups want to eliminate hatcheries and only have native/wild fish in the rivers. This means mostly a catch and release fishery.

Fewer fish being reared in hatcheries, means closing hatcheries. Lack of hatchery fish means fewer licenses and tags sold. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's budget is reduced. Cost of license and tags increases to make up the deficit. Result-fewer tags sold.

Dams: Different groups want dams removed on rivers like the Columbia and Snake. They say dams destroy the anadromous fish runs. Conservation groups like the Coastal Conservation Association say there are more salmon/steelhead going up the Columbia now than in the 10 years prior to the dams.

"Look up the numbers."

Logging: Back when I was working in the logging industry, we were required to remove all debris out of the streams. Didn't work. Stream beds eroded away. Now we are spending $$$$$ placing debris in the streams to improve habitat.

Predators: Just about any predator that eats fish is protected.

Example: A study on Chinook salmon smoldts released in the Columbia River; Eighty-five percent of the tags on the smoldts were found on an island in the lower Columbia. The island is home to a Caspian Terns colony that feasts on the smoldts. The ODFW developed a plan to move (note "move") the terns to another island further down river. Animal rights group protested and threatened a suit. The plan was stopped.

Spotted owl. The spotted owl "crisis" closed logging on federal and state lands putting a lot of folks out of work. Spotted owls, requiring a certain number of acres of old growth timber to nest, has pretty well been proven a ruse.

When a plan was developed to salvage timber from large forest fire areas, again suits were threatened, "the burned areas were vital to the spotted owl." It has been proven, a nesting pair of spotted owls has been located in a tree on the parking lot of a Wal-Mart store. This led one pundit to write, "The secret to the survival of the spotted owl is to burn all the old growth timber and build Wal-Marts every 15 miles or so."

The reintroduction of wolves is another classic example. People living in cities like Los Angles and New York City, think it's a great idea. Folks in affected areas like Pierce, Idaho hate the idea. One of the classic stories coming out of this "confusion": A U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologist said, "Now that the wolves have taken the elk out of--drainage, the elk aren't eating the willows and the willows are doing great."

Sports fishing groups want commercial nets to become history. They cite how much more money is pumped into the economy by sports anglers going after the same fish. The gill netters say their industry is well regulated and historic precedent has been established.

Of course the "granddaddy" of all present confusing topics is GLOBAL WARMING. Global warming is blamed for everything from tornados to hangnails and flooding in the Midwest.

My dad always said, "A skilled researcher -- or preacher -- can find something, to prove his point.

As always, the current "hot topic" gets the grant and research money. Currently, it's global warming.

Recently, a group of graduate students in Texas obtained a grant to study the changing movement pattern of the white winged dove. Conclusion - global warming. Another researcher stepped in to point out how the study had ignored that the historic habitat of the dove had been destroyed. The birds had simply adapted, again, as critters have done for centuries. Seems a guy named Darwin was the first to note this ability of nature's critters.

Now, I'm not saying global warming isn't happening. Say it's not true, and some will immediately label you "a right-wing idiot." Say it's happening, and some will label you "a left-wing bleeding heart liberal."

One thing is for sure. We have short memories. Wasn't it in the 70s when all that grant money was going to study an eminent ice age?

Disagree with that premise - "Idiot."

We truly live in confusing times.

Related Pages:
Columbia River is Thick with Sockeye Salmon by Phil Ferolito, Yakima Herald, 7/3/8

G. I. Wilson is an award-winning outdoors writer who contributes regularly to the Keizertimes.
Living in Confusing Times
Keizer Times, July 3, 2008

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