the film
Commentaries and editorials

Talking Salmon to Death

by Editors

Idaho Mountain Express, October 1, 2003

Just about everyone from President George W. Bush down through every conceivable interest group has had a say about Snake River salmon and whether the one-time phenomenon of Idaho’s waterways is headed for extinction and why.

While talk goes on and on, extinction draws closer and closer.

But wait. Idaho junior U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo believes more talk might find some solution, indirectly: He convened an all-day session of some 40 representatives of the Nez Perce Tribe, environmentalists, agriculture, industry and federal and state agencies.

Since Sen. Crapo chose to meet behind closed doors Saturday, we only have shards of information on what was said. But we know this much: Talk behind closed doors seemed to emphasize how to divvy up water in the upper Snake River among competing interests rather than how to save the vanishing salmon.

This is very much like heirs discussing how to divide a benefactor’s estate rather than seeking medical attention while there’s still time.

All interest groups at Sen. Crapo’s conference table have choices of how to use water allotments in plentiful times and scarce times. But the most interested party not at the table—salmon—has no control.

In fact, the principal cause for the salmon population’s frightening decline is the series of lower Snake River Dams that make salmon migration a Herculean task for the fittest, an inevitable death trap for the frailest.

And that one topic—dam breaching—seemed to have been the one topic Sen. Crapo avoided discussing while diverting attention to water allocations.

Talking Salmon to Death
Idaho Mountain Express - October 1, 2003

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