Saturday, February 12, 2011

Current Event Saturday - Salmon, Steelhead and Dams

(Doe at Ice Harbor Dam)
Northwest RiverPartners

Columbia Basin Fish & Wildlife News
Here in the Pacific Northwest there is an issue that resurfaces itself every few years.  It is regarding the survival of salmon, steelhead and their ability to return to their upriver spawning grounds.  Many environmentalists believe that the Columbia and Snake River dams are keeping the fish from making their trek back up the rivers to reproduce.

If you aren't familiar with Washington State politics I'll break it down in a generality for you to better understand.  The eastern portion of Washington, is that lying to the east side of the Cascade Mountain range.  The range runs north and south through the middle of the state is the east/west divide.  Those on the eastside of the state tend to lean toward the conservative side of issues and those in the mid section of the westside being the Seattle vicinity generally lean to the liberal side.  Then there is the far north of the westside and the far south of the westside and they go either way but in the most recent elections went conservative.  

The population of the Seattle vicinity usually ends up choosing the executive leaders of our state because that is where the bulk of the State's population lies.  Therefore, Washington State's executive or national representation is dominated by liberal ideals.  It becomes unfortunate for those of us on the eastside to have our ideals governed by decisions of those on the other side of the state.

(Snake River Barge waiting to proceed through the locks at the dam)
It is frustrating for us who live, work and play around the rivers and who's livelihoods depend upon the rivers to hear the liberal voices in Seattle when they try to voice their opinions on the Snake and Columbia River dam breaching.  Those dams not only provide irrigation for the hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland on this side of the state but it also provides hydroelectricity as one of the cleanest and greenest power sources available and provides affordable bulk transportation of gross domestic product to travel by barge.

The liberal voices want to see breaching of several of the Snake River dams that they feel are inhibiting the salmon and steelhead from returning from sea to spawn and repopulate.  What they fail to realize is the fish counts have been higher the past couple of years than they have been in over 80 years.  80 years ago when fish first began to be counted in these rivers there were very few dams even yet built. 

With the current democratic Obama Administration the subject of dam breaching is back on the table led loud and proud by leaders elected in the legislative districts that hail from and serve the Seattle areas.  Thankfully us here on the eastside have elected officials on our side that believe in the value of the dams and the jobs, power, recreation and irrigation water they provide to not only Washington State but other neighboring states as well.

(The guys and their Springers May 2010)
Here is a link and this one too(same ones I put at the top of the page) to websites I visit occasionally to read up and gather current information on the state of the rivers and fish information.  We definitely believe in and want to keep the salmon and steelhead populations strong because we want to continue to fish these amazing waterways.  We also want to see the way of life we have come accustomed to thrive as well as the fish have been thriving.  As spring draws closer the fish will soon be returning to the upper portions of the rivers and you can bet Critter and myself will be out tossing a line or two trying to get some of those Springers on our line. 

(Columbia River Steelhead)
I may not know all of the information or have all of the answers, but what I do know is these dams are an essential asset to our beautiful state and as well as neighboring states.  To see them removed would not only be extremely expensive but it would destroy the successful efforts to restore the fish populations since their construction.  Spawning beds would be destroyed and would take decades to return to acceptable fish counts.  In addition we would lose the valuable irrigation, power and transportation resources their existence provides for our way of life.  I see the best option being to continually find ways to improve and assist the abilities of the fish to get to their spawning grounds and keep those numbers rising each year as they consistently have been through the years since building the dams.

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