“River of Renewal”- Salmon, Dams, Orcas, and You (Introduction)

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The other night I just happened to catch on the PBS station KCTS the second half of an excellent documentary about the Klamath River, called “River of Renewal”. I found the part that I watched to be coherent and insightful, and regret that I missed the first half. Although the Klamath River runs through Oregon/California, the film covers the same issues we face here in Washington as we consider removal of dams in the Snake/Columbia river basin.

The restoration of salmon populations is a large and complicated issue, and to help all of us keep track of information I’ve added two special sections to the link bar (to the right) which refer directly to previous posts; one section concerns the basic biology of orcas, the second covers salmon issues. By doing this, I can continue to write about interesting but not necessarily salmon related things that might come up, yet still keep a continuity of the main subjects going.

So, starting with the questions that must occur to everyone when we begin to talk about taking down dams and saving fish: what will we lose and what will we gain by taking such drastic measures?

The following video addresses those questions, and although it is about the California/Oregon Klamath River, it exemplifies the issues that concerned farmers, commercial fisheries, Indian tribes, and a utility company in the consideration of removing four dams, a situation that parallels that of the Snake/Columbia river basin.

These conflicts were recently resolved, and the dams are scheduled to be breached in 2020 – although even that may be too far in the future to arrest the downward trend of those salmon populations. But it shows that disparate interests can come together, and why it is so desperately necessary for us to do so.

Two dams are also scheduled to come down here in Washington on the Elwha River, and due to money allocated by this administration’s stimulus package, demolition and restoration will begin in 2010. It is a momentous undertaking, and thanks to individuals who had both the foresight and fortitude to see this project completed, we may be able to see the salmon populations of those rivers rebound in our lifetime:

As we delve into this subject of restoring salmon populations and what it might require of us to accomplish this, please keep in mind that we are writing from the viewpoint of establishing a food supply for the orcas, and will focus this discussion on their preferred salmon species.

And as always, it is helpful to set aside bias and, as stated in “River of Renewal”; “Find our common roots, do what we can to fix the world”

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