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Commentaries and editorials

Scientists: Snake River Dams
Must Be Breached

by Eric Barker
Lewiston Tribune, June 28, 2011

The Western Division of the American Fisheries Society said Monday the lower Snake River dams must be breached if wild runs of salmon and steelhead are to be saved and restored to fishable numbers.

The organization of fisheries professionals first endorsed breaching 12 years ago. President-elect Dave Ward of Portland, Ore., said members wanted to revisit the issue prior to a court decision on the fate of the federal government's plan to balance the needs of protected fish with the operation of dams on the Snake and Columbia rivers.

Related Pages:
Resolution on the Role of Dams and Conservation of Snake River Salmon, Steelhead, Pacific Lamprey, and White Sturgeon Western Division of American Fisheries Society, June 2011
Scientists Pretty Much Agree About Dam-Breaching by Dave Hohler, The Oregonian, 3/25/00

Western Division of American Fisheries Society Deems the Four Lower Snake River Dams a Threat to Wild Salmon and Steelhead Survival

Portland, Ore. - Today, the Western Division of American Fisheries Society (WDAFS) announced that it has passed a resolution acknowledging that based on the best available science, the four lower Snake River dams and reservoirs present a significant threat to the continued existence of remaining wild fish populations. The threatened fish populations include wild salmon and steelhead, as well as Pacific lamprey and white sturgeon. It goes on to say that if society wishes to save and restore these imperiled species, "then a significant portion of the lower Snake River must be returned to a free-flowing condition by breaching the four lower Snake River dams[.]" The resolution passed with 86.4% approval. Full text of the resolution is available here.

"This resolution simply tells it like it is from the science perspective: if we want to save Snake River salmon as habitats warm, we have to remove the four lower Snake River dams. There is just no evading that reality," said Don Chapman, fisheries biologist, former fisheries professor, and consultant to industry, Native Americans, and management agencies.

Said Doug DeHart, former Fisheries Chief at the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and fisheries biologist, "WDAFS did a great job applying the best available science to a tough issue. Let's hope these scientists' call for a hard look at removal of the four lower Snake River dams is heeded by this Administration. The future of these fish depends on sound decisions informed by this kind of scientific perspective, but it is also crucial for the future our salmon fisheries up and down the West Coast, and the jobs and the communities those fish support."

The resolution follows previous WDAFS assessments in 2004 and 2009 of the federal Biological Opinion regarding Columbia and Snake River salmon policy. Those assessments also indicated that restoration of natural river conditions where the four lower Snake River dams occur has the highest likelihood of recovering wild salmon and steelhead.

"I'm proud to be an AFS member today. To stand up against the political forces trying to silence the science on this issue isn't easy; this call for dam removal and the previous thorough WDAFS critiques of the current plan show that the members of AFS have strong principles and integrity," said Chapman.

Established in 1870, the American Fisheries Society is the world's oldest and largest organization of fisheries professionals. Its 3,500-member Western Division covers the 13 western states and British Columbia, including the entire Columbia Basin.

Eric Barker
Scientists: Snake River Dams Must Be Breached
Lewiston Tribune, June 28, 2011

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