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Commentaries and editorials

Slack-Water Pools are Critical to Salmon

by Roy Heberger
Idaho Statesman, August 24, 2007

The Statesman published Jim Kempton's op-ed (Aug. 6). It was critical of the newspaper's position on dams and salmon recovery. Mr. Kempton and his boss, the governor, clearly do not get it.

It is about the low overall survival of outmigrating smolts to the ocean.

He touts the improvements at the dams but makes no mention of the problems caused by the reservoirs, delayed mortality from barging, predation on disoriented smolts having passed through the "improvements" at the dams, gas bubble disease, or that there is not enough water to accelerate flows and smolts through the slack-water reservoirs.

The Endangered Species Act is an ecosystem-based tool for species recovery that is habitat focused. In-river habitat - the migration corridors the salmon must use - is the key ecosystem component of salmon recovery. It has been ignored to date. The Snake and Columbia rivers have a serious migration-habitat deficiency - the dams and reservoirs.

Modifications to the dams and to their operations and all of the water in the system are not a solution to the problem. It is past time that the most critical issue is squarely addressed in the recovery effort. The dams and the slack-water pools are the problem.

Roy Heberger, Fish and Wildlife Service, retired, Boise
Slack-Water Pools are Critical to Salmon
Idaho Statesman, August 24, 2007

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