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by John McKern
Columbia Basin Bulletin - March 7, 2003

On Feb. 27 you quoted ex-Secretary of Interior Bruce Babbitt and Save Our Wild Salmon continuing to demand breaching of the lower Snake River Dams.

It is unfortunate that such environmental activists try to gull the public with their emotional pleas while they are ignorant of or trying to hide the science behind the issue. As stated in the NOAA Fisheries rebuttal, survival through the eight dams and reservoirs is as high or higher now than when were only four dams. Thanks should be given to the Corps of Engineers for their extraordinary efforts and success in correcting problems that were not foreseen when the dams were built.

Before I retired from the Corps I spent many years analyzing these problems and working with the engineers to come up with solutions. Analysis of the current science shows that breaching the lower Snake River dams would actually decrease survival of juvenile salmon. With the Corps' juvenile fish transportation program, survival of Snake River salmon to the river below Bonneville Dam is over 90 percent - even in a severe drought year like 2001. If the dams were breached, survival would 50 percent or less in good flow years and much worse in drought years.

Having Babbitt and American Rivers judge the Administration on saving the salmon is like having high school dropouts evaluate our school system. In fact, dropouts might know more and be more honest judges about school problems than Babbitt and American Rivers are about the salmon issue.

John McKern, Fish Passage Solutions
SOS Report Feedback
Columbia Basin Bulletin, March 7, 2003

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