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Commentaries and editorials

Salmon are a Keystone Species

by Staff
Idaho Press, September 19, 2021

Graphics: Predictions show natural-origin spawner abundance for the Snake River Basin will start to drop below the quasi-extinction threshold (50 spawners) within the next five years. (Molly Quinn/The Spokesman-Review) (Source: Nez Perce Tribe, staff research) The Columbia Basin is home to orcas, steelhead, and six species of salmon. All of these are keystone species; all are integral to the success of their ecosystems. Salmon have been important in indigenous culture and lifestyle in the region for thousands of years. They define themselves as salmon people.

It would cost just $2 billion to breach the four Lower Snake dams and replace the electricity they generate with solar and wind. This compares to the tens of billion dollars that have been spent on salmon recovery, pushing the Bonneville Power Administration to the brink of insolvency.

The Columbia Basin Initiative is $33.5 billion, but a lot of that money is long overdue investments in Idaho communities that have caused us to be so dependent on the ports. Let’s save money and save the salmon.

We have so much to gain and not much to lose from dam breaching. I urge Senator Crapo to support his colleague’s Columbia Basin Initiative, and I encourage readers to call his office and reiterate that.

Salmon are a Keystone Species
Idaho Press, September 19, 2021

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