SEATTLE -- Dozens of scientists are urging lawmakers to breach four dams along Eastern Washington's Snake River, declaring salmon are at risk of going extinct if they don't. The Legislature provided funding to the governor’s office in the 2019-21 operating budget to conduct a stakeholder process to understand the views of Washingtonians on breaching and removing, or retaining, the lower Snake River dams. You can check my fish count statistics in the links below. But funds don’t move easily across jurisdictions, watersheds, and national boundaries. environment. times larger than in 1999. Support more research like this with a year-end gift! Worse, Reality: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers found that the removal of the four lower Snake River dams would actually decrease total air emissions … Dams’ Hydropower Is No Longer Particularly Cheap. The agency’s handbook for conducting studies like the one underway for the Columbia River system counts the “use-values” of salmon as a source of recreation or food but ignores the “non-use-values” or intrinsic value of salmon as a viable species. Last year, the NW Energy Coalition, which supports removing the dams, Fishers and tribal members in Eastern Washington and Idaho would thrill to see increased salmon runs on the Snake River while Seattleites concerned with climate change fear giving up a gigawatt of carbon-free electricity. magically find the money. An environmentalist-sponsored study claims taking out it and three other dams would be beneficial to the region’s economy. Don C. Brunell is a business analyst, writer and columnist. Aside from the oddity of unselfconsciously quoting I don’t hear anyone rallying for their demolition, however. The Clearwater was closed to steelhead fishing in the fall of 2019 due to poor returns, and returning adult salmon and steelhead numbers in the whole Columbia River Basin were some of the lowest on record. responded by citing Karl Marx, writing, “From each according to their ability, unless the dams were removed, “wild Snake River spring chinook salmon … will be migrants.” Destroying the dams would increase the survival rate by, at best, a They also admit it would These changes would likely increase the populations of endangered fish and reduce the risk of extinction. Restoring the lower Snake River by removing the four dams that block its flow would precipitate changes in the region’s physical infrastructure, electric grid operations, carbon emissions, grain transport, irrigation, recreation, fish habitat, and riverine and marine ecosystems. Fishers and tribal members in Eastern Washington and Idaho would thrill to see increased salmon runs on the Snake River while Seattleites concerned with climate change fear giving up a gigawatt of carbon-free electricity. Founded in 1993, Sightline Institute is committed to making the Northwest a global model of sustainability, with strong communities, a green economy, and a healthy environment. The Northwest Power and Conservation Council told the Additionally, the lower Snake River dams have some of the most advanced fish passage systems in the world, whereas the Klamath River dams completely block the river to salmon migration. No, that does not come across as an overly “scientific” basis for my conclusion. Columbia river salmon that face all the same ocean conditions, but only 3 or 4 Columbia River dams, such as those that spawn in the John Day, are doing much better than those that return to Idaho, even though Idaho’s habitat appears to be better and vastly more money has been spent on the LSRD. “Breaching Snake River dams could save salmon and orcas, but destroy livelihoods” reads a March 24, 2019 cover story of the Sunday Seattle Times Pacific NW magazine. their poor record, advocates of dam destruction insist this time they are who is pushing to destroy the dams, where that money would come from. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, file) Oregon governor calls for tearing out Snake River dams There are many impacts from the dams that don’t show up in “the numbers”, loss of spawning habitat, predators in the reservoirs, loss of flow to facilitate down stream travel for smolts to name a few. of the ECONorthwest study found fault with the wording of one question in the survey sponsored by the Save Our Wild Salmon advocacy group and the application of willingness to pay research to households in California, arguing that people in San Diego don’t care about wild salmon in the Pacific Northwest. So to understand the loss of hydro-power, Seattle should be supplied with only solar and wind power with no federal subsidies. Despite Restoring the lower Snake River by removing the four dams that block its flow would precipitate changes in the region’s physical infrastructure, electric grid operations, carbon emissions, grain transport, irrigation, recreation, fish habitat, and riverine and marine ecosystems. It could also make unnecessary the Corps’ current program of killing sea lions, seals, and birds to protect stressed fish from these predators. See if you agree. But ECONW went further, seeking to put dollar values on the intangible value of the Snake River’s once mighty salmon runs. Find this article interesting? News > WA Government Snake River dam differences run deep, study finds. The March 29 op-ed by Stephen Hartgen on the lower Snake River dam (LSRD) removal misleads readers on critical social and scientific issues. US Reps. Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-Spokane) and Dan Newhouse (R-Yakima) stoked east-west divisions, the report “another example of Seattle-based interests seeking to disrupt our way of life in Central and Eastern Washington.” The, on the highly researched, lengthy technical report was that it “belongs in the trash.”, For five decades, the four dams on the lower Snake River have provided water for irrigation, emissions-free hydroelectricity, and 140 miles of flat water for barge passage from Pasco, Washington, to Lewiston, Idaho. She Five species of Snake River salmon are now threatened or endangered. years, noting that dam removal would make that shortage worse. Many people (including some Sightline readers) who care about fish and climate don’t know what to think about the dams. ); he confirmed that they do not have any additional information they could share. Should non-use values extend to households beyond the five-state region to the nationwide US population, the values would be approximately 6.5 times larger. Has anyone proposed removing a 200+ ft section of the dams earthen portion on a trial basis (say 10 yrs) to see how the fish respond? Facebook; ... any long-term plan that does not include removal of lower Snake dams." Of course this would mean they would totally suspend operations for 10 years. one of the feeding grounds for orka whale is the Columbus river .you see them coming up the Columbus river to feed a lot.so the lack of salmon and all is do to orka feeding. Their fertilized eggs grow into fry that travel hundreds of miles down the Snake River through the Columbia and into the Pacific Ocean. Recent declines in the health of the southern resident orcas have brought new voices to longstanding calls to breach the dams and restore the river to a more natural condition. Sightline Institute is non-partisan and does not oppose, support, or endorse any political candidate or party. Our editors reserve the right to monitor inappropriate comments and personal attacks. If the numbers don’t improve or they continue to decline at the trials completion then give them the option to refill or close off the earthen section and resume normal operations. Part II: Dams’ Hydropower Is No Longer Particularly Cheap, Part III: Removing the Dams and Agriculture. Since the Act’s passage in 1980, Bonneville has spent $16.4 billion on its fish and wildlife program, including $450 million in 2017 for measures including barging juvenile fish around dams, spilling water over the dams to help salmon make the trip downriver, and capital improvements to steer fish away from the dams’ turbines. It can be mind numbing trying to sort out the extent to which the four LSRD are responsible for salmon decline. Removing four dams on the lower Snake River in eastern Washington provides a once in a generation opportunity to recover endangered wild salmon and steelhead runs in the Columbia-Snake watershed (including Idaho’s Salmon and Clearwater rivers, northeast Oregon’s Imnaha and Grande Ronde, and southeast Washington’s Tuccannon), while creating new economic opportunities and investing in a … The Free the Snake Floitilla is a paddle to tell our elected leaders it's time to remove the four lower Snake River dams! The Army Corps of Engineers estimates the cost to remove the Scientists warn of salmon extinction if Snake River dams stay. Support more research like this with a year-end gift! In July, the economic consulting firm ECONorthwest (ECONW), funded by the philanthropic arm of the late Paul Allen’s Vulcan Inc. on the benefits and costs of restoring the river. Were well below their 10-year average and a fraction of their historic levels to recognize salmon! 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