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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

August 5, 2014 at 1:59 PM

Salmon recovery: Don’t cut back on dam spills

Part of a catch that once would have been unimaginable, more than 400 sockeye salmon are pulled from the net on one pass by the Dream Catcher, , a purse seiner operated by the tribes near the mouth of the Okanogan River’s confluence with the Columbia. (BETTINA HANSEN / The Seattle Times)

While the return of Okanogan sockeye is cause for optimism, a main driver of this recovery, court-ordered spill at federal projects, has a more doubtful future ["On Columbia, ‘just add water’ seems to be working," Local News, Aug. 2].

As reporter Lynda Mapes alludes in her article, and as the accompanying graphic clearly illustrates, exponential increases in sockeye, which began in 2007, coincide with then-federal District Judge James Redden’s order to dedicate more Columbia River water for salmon. Redden’s order came in mid-2005, and sockeye, with its typical two- to three-year life cycle, were the first species to show that spill is by far the most effective salmon recovery policy we’ve tried.

This is no mere matter of opinion. Since 2005, scientists comprising a multi-state, inter-agency task force known as the Comparative Survival Study have compiled data that show sockeye populations and other endangered strains of salmon have increased dramatically since spills were implemented — in years of good, fair and poor ocean and river conditions. Increased levels of spill, as sockeye tantalizingly have shown, could lead to overall recovery and de-listing of salmon.

Steven Hawley, Hood River, Ore.

 

Comments | More in salmon | Topics: Columbia River, James Redden, Okanogan

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