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Commentaries and editorials

Snake River Dams

by Alan Schonefeld
Idaho Statesman, January 18, 2018

Graphic: Salmon and Steelhead counted passing up through Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River on their journey to their natal spawning grounds from 1938-2017. In a recent opinion piece about barging grain on the lower Snake River, Stacey Satterlee expressed either ignorance of the truth or a willingness to deceive the public. For example, she states, "Fish runs on the Snake River have seen record returns in recent years." Fact: Snake River fish returns are in steep decline. No populations of threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead are on a path to recovery.

Juvenile fish passage through the hydrosystem? Despite spending $700 million on dam fish passage equipment, NOAA Fisheries states, "Chinook survival through the hydrosystem has remained relatively stable [around 50 percent] since 1999." Millions of juvenile fish die in reservoirs. There is only one way to fix a reservoir.

Satterlee also pulls out the false "prevent flooding" claim. The lower Snake dams provide no flood control. Lower Granite Dam creates flood risk at Lewiston, requiring the maintenance of an extensive levee system and expensive dredging.

As more truth emerges about the enormous public costs of keeping the dams, special interest groups are expanding their misinformation campaigns. Idaho salmon and steelhead are sliding toward extinction while Idahoans are being fed grain that has already been through the horse.

Related Pages:
Barging Lets Idaho's Grain Growers Compete in the World Market by Stacey Satterlee, Idaho Statesman, 12/16/17

Alan Schonefeld, Kooskia
Snake River Dams
Idaho Statesman, January 18, 2018

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