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Commentaries and editorials

Saving Salmon:
Dam Removal Makes Sense

Letters to the Editor
The Oregonian, August 16, 2006

With its tentative proclamation, PacifiCorp has opened dialogue about dam removal on the Klamath River ("PacifiCorp may agree to removing dams," Aug. 3).

It suggests a vital opportunity for real, science-based, salmon recovery on a river that has run out of any other options. I applaud your Aug. 6 editorial, "At last an opening for Klamath salmon," for emphasizing this cautious message as a monumental chance for leaders in our region to join the discussion of dam removal, river restoration, and salmon and steelhead recovery.

Lack of leadership from the federal government and our Northwest congressional delegation risks our salmon runs and salmon economy and wasted millions of dollars each year on the Klamath and on the Snake River. The "trap and haul," or truck or barging programs proposed by PacifiCorp have been a huge failure on the Snake River. Three cheers for PacifiCorp's willingness to start the discussion around restoring the Klamath.

Mario J. Tomaino Tigard

I am somewhat skeptical of PacifiCorp and its announcement about being open to dam removal, but with such dire straits on the Klamath River, this is something that needs to be taken seriously. Fishing boats are sitting high and dry, and fishing communities are withering like the runs of salmon they depend on.

If the continued loss of Klamath salmon has this type of negative impact on Oregon and California fishing communities, the Snake River's ongoing problems will become the nail in the coffin for Oregon and Washington commercial fishermen.

The dams that sandwich Oregon on our northern and southern borders are choking coastal communities to death. A discussion of dam removal and the replacement of their benefits is a discussion that the region must truly embrace, and quickly.

Samuel Whisnand Southeast Portland

In the editorial, "Fishery aid is needed, but so are better policies" (Aug. 11), dams, drought, loss of habitat, warm and polluted water, and diversions for irrigation are listed as culprits for the failure of the Klamath salmon fishery. What about harvest?

If all the listed culprits were remedied, but nothing was done about harvest, you would have a great environment, but no fish!

Fish First ( rehabilitated Cedar Creek, a tributary of Washington's Lewis River. Native fish returns increased by thousands of fish. Then the harvest rules were changed and the numbers plummeted.

The commercial fishing industry is suffering but it is also part of the problem, along with Native American and sport fisheries.

Separation of native fish from hatchery fish with only the release of native fish to go upriver to spawn is necessary to restore the native fisheries. This is best accomplished by use of fish traps and equipment to identify and separate the fin-clipped hatchery fish. But fish traps in Oregon have been outlawed in favor of indiscriminate gill netting. Harvest regulation is a major part of any restoration plan.

Michael Kay Southwest Portland

In your Aug. 6 editorial, "At last, an opening for Klamath salmon," you correctly note that PacifiCorp's Klamath River dams "are not huge power producers" but go on to contrast their limited output to "the power plants on the Columbia and Snake rivers." You're right that Columbia River dams produce a lot of power. However, the four outdated lower Snake dams do not.

In good water years, the lower Snake dams might account for up to 5 percent of Bonneville Power Administration power (bluefish corrects: 4% of Northwest power and 9% of BPA power. See Seasonal Hydropower), but even that's an overstatement. Their power is unreliable and seasonally variable, with the bulk of it generated during spring runoff when regional power needs are low and there's little out-of-region (California, the Southwest) demand for our surplus energy.

When we need it most, those dams cover barely 2 percent of our needs. This is similar to the Klamath dams, and like those dams, they should be removed.

Matt Yurdana Southwest Portland

Letters to the Editor
Saving Salmon: Dam Removal Makes Sense
The Oregonian, August 16, 2006

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