Remove Dams to
by Paul and Ann Hill
... it is time to recognize these dams have become a major financial and cultural liability and their removal will provide
important benefits to a growing recreation economy and relieve taxpayers of the burdens of their operation and maintenance.
From our various vantage points along salmon spawning grounds in the Salmon River near Stanley, we've noted for a number of years declining numbers of returning salmon. In a region where these fish have been valued for eons, this decline represents a major threat to the environment, the historic Native American culture, the financial viability of river communities and the overall well-being of the river.
These salmon -- Chinook and sockeye -- are iconic; they can be classified as "super fish," as they are the only salmon capable of traversing the 900 miles, through eight dams and up 7,000 feet in altitude. Local fish hatcheries are trying to supplement returning numbers, but the native species are still declining and are currently at numbers that are borderline viable for their future preservation. This downward trend is pointing toward extinction of these fish.
One of the major documented causes of this decline in fish populations is the four dams on the lower Snake River. In repeated discussions with experienced fish biologists, we've been advised that effective recovery of our salmon populations is dependent on removal of those dams. We realize the dams' operations have been modified over the years to help fish populations, but the modifications have been inadequate as determined by those studying the situation. The still water behind the dams becomes too warm, and the volume of still water is so large that smolts are disoriented and die before they make their way to the Columbia and on to the Pacific Ocean. As a result, far fewer become adults and return to the Salmon River.
We hope all Idahoans will join in the effort to persuade our elected officials to help reverse this trend, by encouraging the removal of the four dams on the lower Snake River. These dams, once valued for their production of electricity, and the transport of goods, have become nearly obsolete. The costs of maintenance, and the increasing use of other means of transport (railroads, trucking), have supplanted any remaining benefits of, and the need for, these dams. The port of Lewiston has seen a major decline in its role as the farthest inland port in the country, and is now looking toward the more efficient means of transport. In short, it is time to recognize these dams have become a major financial and cultural liability and their removal will provide important benefits to a growing recreation economy and relieve taxpayers of the burdens of their operation and maintenance.
Please help reclaim the birthplace of one of the most historically significant species our country has been privileged to experience. Please join the growing number of public representatives and organizations in figuring out the best and fairest way to accomplish removal of the dams.
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