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Commentaries and editorials

Lonesome Again?

by Editorial Board
Idaho Mountain Express, August 26, 2016

(Darin Oswald photo) Lonesome Larry was the only sockeye salmon to make it to Idaho's Redfish Lake to spawn in 1992. His sperm was used to preserve a strain of the salmon that was on the edge of extinction. Will Larry the sockeye salmon be left lonesome once more?

In 1991, Lonesome Larry was the sole sockeye to survive the 900-mile trip back from the Pacific Ocean to his birthplace in the Salmon River in the Sawtooth Valley.

Between 1990 and 1998, just 16 sockeye made it back. After that scare, herculean recovery efforts increased sockeye runs, at least for a while. But last year's high water temperatures in the Columbia and Lower Snake rivers, part of the West's fish highway that leads to inland salmon spawning grounds, killed high numbers of salmon that were trying to make it home. Reports estimate that 250,000 adult sockeye perished in those waters.

Federal action is necessary to keep Larry from becoming lonesome again. But none of the agencies that can do that seem to be looking out for Larry's love life.

In May, a federal judge ruled that for an outrageous fourth time the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration had failed to produce an adequate plan to recover salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River basin.

The legal fight over the effect of dams on the fish runs has dragged on for 25 years ever since NOAA opined that dams would not hurt the runs. The numbers since have proved how false that supposed scientific opinion was.

Last week, five groups announced that they will sue the Environmental Protection Agency over the heat-related deaths that they say were a consequence of the agency's violations of the Clean Water Act.

Lawsuits will not save the salmon, but they are apparently the only hope that Larry has left for not being single again.

Related Pages:
Count the Fish, 1977-2014, Salmon Recovery Efforts by GAO

Editorial Board
Lonesome Again?
Idaho Mountain Express, August 26, 2016

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