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Commentaries and editorials

Snake River Dams Must Remain

by Reagan Grabner
Tri-City Herald, January 10, 2010

The dams on the lower Snake River stand as triumphs of the American spirit in all its complexity and deserve to remain.

Ice Harbor Dam (aerial photo - Salmon Recovery) As a farmer who relies directly on the river for my livelihood, I am encouraged that we are engaging in such a robust process to understand the lower Snake River dams. At the same time, I am fearful that some of the aspects of the topic tug so directly on our emotions that we may, as a region, state and country, make decisions that will not stand the test of time.

I believe it can be simultaneously true that we wish something were different while not wishing that thing to be erased. I am told that it is without question that wild salmon populations are not as healthy today as they were generations ago. In addition, the enduring success and stewardship of a defining part of our region, orca whales, is a priority that few would debate. At the same time, it is arrogance to think that a complex system of dynamic variables can be largely solved through one bold action no matter how symbolic it may seem. Trying to turn back the clock of human civilization and destroying magnificent and productive works of engineering will not alone save the orcas. It will, however, undermine the economic and, more recently, cultural foundation of a region.

The place I call home was carved out of a harsh environment through the will, vision and determination of the human spirit. This was not in conflict with nature, but in harmony. Just as past inhabitants of the region gave themselves to the river to sustain their lives and provide for their families, I do the same today. Am I less relevant because I came later? Perhaps so, but I am tied to those in the past and future by our common dependence. We have each left our mark.

I'm finally of an age where I see that few things are completely good or completely bad. We cannot unscramble an egg and need to trust that those before us acted in good faith with the best information available.

This legacy should push us forward, not backward.

In seeking progress we shouldn't live with past injustice or stupidity, we should build on it correcting mistakes. In our context, this means first understanding the science and embracing the solutions it reveals. The dams embody the progress we can make together and I am confident that we can work within the context of the dams to accomplish worthy environmental goals ahead. The dams on the lower Snake River stand as triumphs of the American spirit in all its complexity and deserve to remain.

A rally for the Snake River dams will be at 4:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 13, at the Pasco Red Lion Hotel. The public workshop is 6 to 9 p.m.

Reagan Grabner, Managing Partner with CSS Farms in Pasco.
Snake River Dams Must Remain
Tri-City Herald, January 10, 2010

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