Critics: Dam Removal No `Silver Bullet'
by Andy Porter
Industry groups oppose dam-removal efforts on the lower Snake River.
Bruce Babbitt's call to remove the four dams on the lower Snake River has not gone without challenge.
The stand ignores current gains in salmon numbers and the harm the dam removal would do to the region's economy, Glen Squires, a spokesman for the Washington Wheat Association, said today.
In regards to the issue of transportation alone, Squires said trains simply can't replace barges when it comes to economically shipping wheat and other commodities.
"The whole (river transport) infrastructure has been constructed to export wheat by barges," Squires said today. "It's just an efficient system in meeting export demand."
After Babbitt raised the issue of dam removal in a Jan. 4 opinion article in The Oregonian newspaper, Squires and other critics have said while it is uncertain what effects dam removal would have on fish runs, there would be no doubt as to the economic downside.
Glenn Vanselow, executive director of the Pacific Northwest Waterways Association, said Monday that while work still needs to be done, the "massive' efforts to restore salmon runs are making a difference."
Vanselow said his views regarding dam removal, which appeared in a Jan. 7 rebuttal article in The Oregonian, haven't changed.
"(The proponents') claim that dam breaching is the silver bullet that will guarantee recovery and prosperity for all," he said in the article. "But the science says otherwise about the results of such drastic action for fish and the economics of this supposed silver bullet simply don't pencil out."
Squires and other critics of Babbitt's views also say the decline in fish runs is a problem far broader than the Snake River dams.
Critics point out that of the 26 West Coast fish runs listed under the Endangered Species Act, four are on the Snake River.
"Taking out the (Snake River) dams does nothing for the other 22 fish runs, many of which are located in undammed rivers," Squires said in a recent article in Wheat Life magazine.
Squires said today another major factor affecting salmon runs are ocean conditions, a fact that often gets ignored in arguments over dam removal.
"People blame the dams when the fish aren't doing so well, but when they are doing well, they credit the oceans, and there seems to be a disconnect there," Squires said.
learn more on topics covered in the film
see the video
read the script
learn the songs