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Commentaries and editorials

Natural Salmon Recovery

by Ronald M. Harriman
Lewiston Tribune, October 13, 2019

In retrospect, the number of returning adult salmon was relatively level from 1938 through 1990.  The precipitous loss of returning chinook entering the Snake River (Figure 20) accounts for a major share of the decline that has occurred in total return to the Columbia -- Artificial Production Review, NW Power & Conservation Council To the editor,

Before Sacagawea led the Corps of Discovery over the Continental Divide to her Lemhi Tribe, the rivers ran free. Salmon were plentiful. No cities, highways, farms, ranches, or commerce, just unproductive sagebrush steppes, forests and nothing along the river as the spring runoff flooded and washed everything away.

Not the case today, right!

Today all of the above exist, but the rivers are now controlled (to reduce flooding) and the salmon have all but disappeared.

A lot of the salmon loss can be attributed to dams, but as of 2016 even the free flowing rivers on the West Coast of North America are being closed to salmon fishing due to the lack of salmon.

The organizations making money off salmon recovery -- tribes, conservation groups, etc. -- have not solved the problem with over $1 billion per year.

There is a natural solution to allow salmon to access to all of their historic ranges: Recreate the rivers through and around the dams by building a canal-like structure with continuous water flow and removable gill nets at reentry to the river for predatory fish that eat the smolts.

This could be accomplished on the four lower dams for one year of the present remediation and the same flow of water needed could be utilized to circumvent every dam on the Columbia and Snake, ending the blockage. The allocation Idaho alone is required to spill for salmon recovery would be enough water for the entire Columbia watershed.

Of course, it will end the near $1 billion yearly largess for these organizations, and it won’t return the historical runs, as that problem is in the ocean.

It will, however, protect the livelihoods of all in agriculture, barging, recreation and sport fishing, and provide flood prevention.

Related Pages:
Build the Fish Their Own River, One Man Says by N.S. Nokkentved, Times-News - August 16, 1999

Ronald M. Harriman, Nampa, Idaho
Natural Salmon Recovery
Lewiston Tribune, October 13, 2019

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