Basin Salmon Runs Continue to Improveby Pratik Joshi
Tri-City Herald, March 29, 2007
Salmon runs have improved dramatically in the Columbia River Basin in the last six or seven years, thanks to improvements at the dams and long-term fish monitoring, says an official of the National Marine Fisheries Service.
Spillway weirs, or fish slides, at the dams have helped provide juvenile fish with less-stressful passage, and fish tags have led to more effective monitoring, said Bob Lohn, northwest regional administrator of the federal agency.
Lohn spoke Wednesday at a luncheon sponsored by Tri-Ports, Tri-City Development Council and area chambers of commerce in Pasco.
He said the new analysis can potentially move the dialogue forward on a highly controversial topic: The possible breaching of dams on the four lower Snake River dams.
The issue pits conservation groups, tribes and commercial fishermen against a coalition of organizations and businesses that support science-based measures and promote a holistic strategy to salmon recovery.
"We need to focus on a strong regional economic focus and strong salmon revival," Lohn said.
Better monitoring also suggests that salmon have steadily adapted to changes in river currents. But there's a need to protect their habitat and ecommend appropriate harvest levels to continue the recovery process, he said.
Federal agencies, including fisheries and the Army Corps of Engineers, are working on a program for ecosystem management, Lohn added. Earlier this month, the Corps installed a prototype surface bypass spillway at McNary Lock and Dam.
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