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Commentaries and editorials

Summer of Loss

by Lucinda George Simpson
Lewiston Tribune, July 29, 2020

Adult counts of wild Chinook and Steelhead returning to Idaho (source: Idaho Fish & Game) ... Summer is traditionally when we celebrate life, but now we grieve the loss of jobs, gatherings, graduations, our grandchildren’s hugs and, tragically, of loved ones. ...

For me, a Nimiipuu elder, COVID-19 triggers a painful reminder of a profound loss we as a people are experiencing. Forty years ago, Nimiipuu fishermen risked their lives in a standoff over the tribe’s right to fish for salmon when state officials closed the Rapid River hatchery fishery. Today, the fishery is closed once again.

This year’s adult chinook returns to the Rapid River hatchery are the lowest since fisheries biologists started using electronic tag data to track the fish. This year has also seen the lowest spring return of chinook salmon since 1999. ...

The Clearwater, lower Salmon, Rapid, and Little Salmon rivers are already closed to salmon fishing. Many hatcheries across the Pacific Northwest, tribal and non-tribal, are forecasting a shortage of broodstock for spawning the next generation. ...

Science supports what we the Nimiipuu have known for more than 10,000 years: ... Our cold, clean, fast-running rivers support a wide diversity of life.

Places along the river where we fished, the cool eddies and bends once shaded by trees and shrubs, have become hot and exposed with the industrialization of the river and construction of dams. Cooling the Columbia Basin’s rivers, aided by removing the four lower Snake River dams, will be essential if we are going to restore the natural health and abundance of our regions’ rivers. ...

Lucinda George Simpson, Lapwai
Summer of Loss
Lewiston Tribune, July 29, 2020

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