March 5, 2008
Damn the Dams!
One hundred years ago, no one ever thought that damming up some of the Pacific Northwest’s healthiest salmon rivers would create such problems to the region, but now scientists are left to deal with some controversial issues that could make or break the local economy and possibly save the entire salmon species. The big question is, should we remove dams along the Columbia and Snake rivers in order to save our wild salmon population? The answer is yes. The removal of these damns would not only help recover the wild salmon population but restore the rivers ecosystems, rebuild jobs, and boost the local economy. On the other hand, these dams generate tons of electricity, provide sufficient transportation, and create inland ports. So would the tearing down of these dams be worth it?
For thousands of years, salmon have been swimming almost a thousand miles from the Pacific Ocean up the Columbia and Snake Rivers, to spawn and die in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains as far away as central Idaho. Add to that an elevation gain of about five Empire State buildings, and you have one incredible journey. These days however, the salmon are faced with an even bigger obstacle; they must navigate through and pass the massive dams along the rivers. Historically, thousands of salmon were able to make the epic journey but recently as few as three sole male salmon made it as far as the Sawtooth Valley at the base of the Rockies in central Idaho. The dams are creating a problem that just keeps getting bigger. History proves that removal of these dams will greatly help the salmon. In 1931 for example, when salmon first faced extinction, the Sunbeam Dam on the Salmon River was removed, and by 1955, the rivers wild salmon population rebounded to 1,500 spawners. Now that the salmon are back on the endangered species list, many new problems are starting to develop, and nearly 100 members of Congress are urging...