96 Fish Survival Rate is Disputed, Borg Hendrickson, Walla Walla Union-Bulletin
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Commentaries and editorials

Fish Survival Rate is Disputed

by Borg Hendrickson
Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, March 21, 2015

Graphic: Survival rates of juvenile Chinook and Steelhead migrating downstream through the federal hydrosystem corridor.  Note that in most years, fewer than half the juvenile run has survived the dangerous downstream migration. A recent John McKern letter to the editor regarding the four Lower Snake River dams contained what I believe to be misleading and false information -- his fish claims for example.

McKern stated juvenile salmon survival, presumably through the hydrosystem, exceeds 95 percent. Not true. The Fish Passage Center estimates wild Chinook salmon smolt survival over the past 10 years has averaged 52 percent. Wild steelhead survival rate is worse: 46 percent. Wild Chinook survival rate in 1999 was .59 percent, in 2012 it was .57 percent.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Walla Walla District has now spent $700 million on "system improvements" on McNary and the four Lower Snake River dams to improve smolt passage, but NOAA Fisheries recently acknowledged "Chinook survival through the hydropower system has remained relatively stable since 1999 with the exception of lower estimates in 2001 and 2004." Essentially, that means "no improvement" -- despite $700 million ... and despite increased spill.

McKern also spoke of adult survival past the dams. He neglected noting that to keep Snake River threatened and endangered wild fish from extinction, we need a smolt-to-adult return ratio of at least 1 percent, with species recovery requiring an SAR of 2 percent-6 percent. The SAR for Chinook salmon over the past 18 years has averaged .59 percent, and never surpassed .8 percent. At least 1 percent is needed to avoid extinction.

The Union-Bulletin accurately printed McKern's comments under "opinions," since they surely didn't reflect facts. However, McKern got one thing right: When convinced of your beliefs, no facts or truth will convince you otherwise.

Related Pages:
Fish Survival Rate is Disputed by Borg Hendrickson, Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, 3/21/15
Hydropower Not Been Replaced by Wind Power by John McKern, Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, 3/6/15
New Numbers Won't Change Debate About Snake River Structures by Rocky Barker, Idaho Statesman, 3/5/15
Lower Snake River Dams Are Economic Losers Borg Hendrickson, Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, 2/28/15

Borg Hendrickson, Kooskia, Idaho
Fish Survival Rate is Disputed
Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, March 21, 2015

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