the film
Commentaries and editorials

Salmon Run Controversy:
Follow the Money

by Ed Morrison
Seattle Times, January 31, 2010

In a letter published on Jan. 28 ["Environmental issues: Salmon runs," Northwest Voices], Ed Morrison, executive director of Northwest RiverPartners, Portland, claims that the premise in "Getting past the dams" is wrong. The premise of the original editorial is that the court-ordered spill program on the middle and upper Columbia and Snake River dams has a measurable impact on salmon survival. In her letter, Flores distorts the opinion piece.

What made me respond is the source of this letter. In the case of Northwest RiverPartners, you need to follow the money. This organization's board members work for the following groups: Avista Utilities, McMinnville Water and Light, Industrial Customers of Northwest Utilities, Inland Power, PNGC Power and Flathead Electric Cooperative [among others].

These are the "RiverPartners." They are mostly utility companies who continue to stonewall scientific evidence that the dams on the middle and upper Columbia and Snake rivers have a large impact on salmon survival. Fish scientists and courts battles have consistently held that this impact is quite real.

It's OK to believe that energy generation and utility company profits are more important than salmon survival. It's not OK to distort the science that clearly shows we have to make choices between these competing factors. Personally, I'll vote for the salmon.

Factors affecting sockeye salmon returns to the Columbia River in 2008, Northwest Fisheries Science Center, 2/09

Table 5. Estimated outmigration of sockeye salmon smolts from the Sawtooth Basin in Idaho
and adult returns passing Lower Granite Dam. Last two columns added by bluefish.
Out-migration Year Estimated Sockeye Juveniles Adult Return Year Adults Passing Lower Granite Dam Index SAR (%) Adults Arriving in Stanley Basin Index SAR (%)
1998 96,669 2000 299 0.31 257 0.26
1999 24,664 2001 36 0.15 26 0.10
2000 5,298 2002 55 1.04 22 0.42
2001 7,356 2003 14 0.19 3 0.04
2002 16,958 2004 113 0.67 27 0.16
2003 9,603 2005 18 0.19 6 0.06
2004 9,749 2006 15 0.15 4 0.04
2005 68,855 2007 46 0.07 4 0.01
2006 109,779 2008 805 0.73 636 0.58
2007 88,398 2009 838 0.95

Note: Last two columns added by bluefish. NW Science Center may be changing the Column 5, Index SAR, as they have recently learned of some errors in the assumptions regarding column 2, Estimated Sockeye Juvenile data.

bluefish notes: a SAR of 2.0% is considered the minimum necessary for a self-sustaining Sockeye poplulation.

Report Conclusion: In summary, the results discussed here provide a consistent pattern to explain the large return of adult sockeye to the Columbia River in 2008. Based on these results, we conclude that the factors responsible for the high return largely acted on fish downstream of Bonneville Dam and during the marine component of their life cycle, and not in the river upstream of Bonneville Dam.

Ed Morrison, North Bend
Salmon Run Controversy: Follow the Money
Seattle Times, January 27, 2010

See what you can learn

learn more on topics covered in the film
see the video
read the script
learn the songs
discussion forum
salmon animation