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Together, We Can Find Solutions

by Roy Akins
Lewiston Tribune, August 29, 2019

Adult counts of wild Chinook and Steelhead returning to Idaho (source: Idaho Fish & Game) When your livelihood depends on the outdoors, you constantly think about the past, present and future.

I've been a fishing guide in Idaho for 29 years, and an outfitter for the past eight. Every day, I think about how this region supports families, and whether its resources will be available for my grandkids.

It's time to ask ourselves if what we're doing is the best we can for all our communities.

Think about what we can do if we reimagine how we manage the lower Snake River. I work primarily on the Snake's biggest tributary, the Salmon River.

Hard facts related to four dams on the lower Snake River are telling us we need to do some new thinking.

Recent salmon and steelhead returns on the Snake are among the lowest on record. That's lost economic opportunity.

Meanwhile, Bonneville Power Administration, which manages the dams, is $15 billion in debt. The dams' infrastructure is aging, and costs to maintain and upgrade them are huge.

We can have both a healthy BPA and healthy salmon -- if we imagine removing the dams in a way that brings the whole region forward.

If we remove the dams, what's the impact of Lewiston reconnecting to the waterfront? How do we make sure farm families' needs are taken care of?

All of us rely on our region's natural resources -- from an outfitter like me to each household that counts on affordable electricity.

These questions have answers. It's time we come together and work them out.

Roy Akins
Together, We Can Find Solutions
Lewiston Tribune, August 29, 2019

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