Saving Northwest Salmon
To save Northwest salmon, four large obstacles must be removed...and they aren't dams.
There are at least four big obstacles to saving Northwest salmon.
But, contrary to recent claims, they aren't dams.
They're mind-sets--ways of thinking that have led the region down false paths
and brought about mistakes that have been equally costly for people and salmon.
The Northwest needs a reasonable, balanced and fair salmon solution.
To get it, we must overcome the following:
(1) The Us vs Them mentality. Good guys vs. bad guys. Salmon vs. dams. Winners
vs. losers. That approach is polarizing. In the salmon issue, the Northwest
has a common problem, and it won't be solved through adversarial tactics. We
need a win-win solution. Good science can provide one.
(2) Working at cross purposes. Salmon recovery is hindered by conflicting
policies, practices and laws. For example,: Federal law protects migratory
birds that are major salmon predators...yet up to 40 percent of some salmon
stocks are consumed by birds, according to National Marine Fisheries Service
research. There are conflicts between hatchery and wild fish, between protecting
endangered salmon and maintaining harvest. These and other conflicting policies
must be resolved.
(3) The search for a silver bullet. Salmon have an incredibly complex life cycle.
They're affected in a myriad of ways by ocean temperatures and conditions, food
supplies, harvesting policies, hatchery management and a host of river conditions.
Anyone who promotes a single, "silver bullet" solution like dam breaching isn't
dealing in science.
(4) The elevation of politics over science. For too long, politics has overshadowed
science in guiding salmon recovery efforts. For example, some of the most recent
scientific studies show increased survival under current river conditions...and
yet we still hear calls for unproven radical measures such as tearing down the
four lower Snake River dams.
The Northwest can save the salmon while maintaining a healthy environment and a
strong economy. We can do so by upporting a reasonable, balanced fair approach
grounded in sound cience. Ultimately, that will benefit everyone, including the
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