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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

May 22, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Salmon recovery

Serious consideration of all recovery options

U.S. District Judge James Redden’s recent letter criticizing the federal agencies’ proposal for salmon recovery could not come at a better time [“Salmon plan needs more work, judge says,” NWTuesday, May 19]. This comes as a huge relief to me and other concerned Northwest citizens who have watched wild-salmon populations decline while elected officials stand by and watch.

The 2008 Bush-era salmon plan for the Columbia Basin reflects bad science and divisive politics, and it should remain with the last administration. The Obama administration now has its chance to move forward, honor its commitment to the best available science and bring together the people most affected by salmon and river-management issues to solve this problem together. Any credible, science-driven process must look closely at all recovery options, including the removal of four costly dams on the lower Snake River.

In his letter, the judge emphasizes that this plan’s habitat-restoration measures are ambiguous and unsupported by science. Scientists didn’t approve this plan, and now it is clear the court won’t either. As the judge stated, “We cannot afford to waste another decade,” and without full and serious consideration of all recovery options, this is most surely what will happen.

— Morgan True, Seattle

Explore dam removal as a first option

The letter from the federal judge earlier this week called for a substantially stronger Columbia Basin salmon plan. Measures like additional river flows seem like steps in the right direction, but I wonder if they will go far enough and if they might end up being more costly than simply removing the four deadly dams on the lower Snake River and replacing their limited services with alternatives.

Though removal of these four dams is no silver bullet for salmon recovery in the Columbia and Snake rivers — other actions will be needed — the science suggests that it will likely reduce the size and scale of additional restoration activities, like additional spill or flows.

We owe it to ourselves as energy users and ratepayers, consumers of salmon and agricultural products, and of course residents, citizens and neighbors, to explore dam removal as a legitimate first option, not merely a contingency plan. We, as a region and nation, need to get all these types of economic and scientific data together as a first step to allow us to make a fully informed decision.

— Miles Farrow-Johnson, Seattle

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