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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

November 12, 2014 at 12:26 PM

Salmon recovery: Dams are an easy scapegoat

Gabriel Campanario / The Seattle Times

In “How to boost salmon populations” [Opinion, Nov. 6], the authors admit that ocean conditions were a factor in recent record returns. But they give most credit to spill — the practice of shooting water over hydropower dams to help speed fish to the ocean.

Yet young salmon spend less than a month in the hydropower system where spill affects them, versus three to four years in the ocean. They face death from commercial, sport and tribal harvest. Some never make it past the hungry sea lions, which devour up to 45 percent of the spring Chinook run, according to a recent NOAA Fisheries report.

Then why the myopic focus on spill? Anti-dam groups, which have been suing for nearly two decades, want removal of the federal dams that supply 60 percent of the Northwest’s total  energy — and 90 percent of its clean, renewable energy. They know that when spill volume goes up, the cost-effectiveness of the hydro system goes down.

While these perennial litigants keep the region in court, government agencies, tribes and river users have come together on projects that actually benefit fish. It’s this kind of collaboration — not litigation — that will help boost salmon populations in the Northwest.

Terry Flores, Executive Director of Northwest RiverPartners, Portland, Ore.

Comments | More in salmon | Topics: dams, NOAA Fisheries, Northwest RiverPartners

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