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Commentaries and editorials

Northwest Dams

by Robert Buchanan
The News Tribune, February 28, 2021

(Steven Lane) Hundreds of wind turbines rise from the dryland wheat country of eastern Klickitat County, where wind farms are permitted outright under county zoning. Finally, the Northwest might be taking a bold step in the right direction, thanks to Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson's Columbia Basin Fund.

He's taken a clear-eyed view of the economic damage we face if we lose our valuable Columbia River salmon fisheries.

At the same time, he's proposing a more certain future for agricultural communities and much-needed energy upgrades across the region.

Simpson's proposal hits close to home for me and my family. I've been in the sportfishing industry all my life, and in Washington fishing means business. Nearly 950,000 anglers spent $1.5 billion fishing in our waters.

I also have deep family ties to the Palouse farming industry. Driving grain trucks to the silos in my younger days gave me a front-row seat to the critical workings of grain transport on the Snake River, a pillar of our state economy.

Our salmon runs are nearing extinction. We must accept that the lower Snake River dams have outlived their usefulness. For fish and for farms, Simpson's package offers both the best chance for survival.

We can't afford not to make the change. It's what the Northwest needs.

Robert Buchanan, Auburn
Northwest Dams
The News Tribune, February 28, 2021

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