Resurgent Northwest salmon show dam ‘spill’ is better than barging

The fish do better in the river than they do in a barge.

I’m not really a fan of Rocky Barker because I think he is biased towards the collaborative process because it has worked within the framework of the Snake River salmon and steelhead issue. When contrasted with other collaborative processes this issue has a fundamental difference, Judge Redden and the force of federal law. Because of this there is accountability to the “best available science” mandated by the Endangered Species Act not just the whims of people who want to go along to get along as happens with other collaborative groups.

What biologists have known for a long time about salmon is that they do much better when they migrate to the ocean in the river over the dams and not through them, they also know that when they are captured and carried down river in a barge they are exposed to all kinds of disease and are less fit to deal with the transition from fresh to salt water once they are released downstream of Bonneville Dam. More of the barged fish suffered “delayed mortality” than those that migrated downriver on their own.

As an activist, I feel that recovery of salmon and steelhead calls for more than just a minimum population of fish returning to their spawning grounds but rather flourishing population that contributes to the whole ecosystem of the rivers which were once blessed with millions of fish each year. The historic runs of salmon and steelhead had immense influence on the productivity of the ecosystem and provided crucial nutrients to the central Idaho streams they still sparsely inhabit. True recovery should require the removal of the 4 Lower Snake River dams.

Resurgent Northwest salmon show dam ‘spill’ is better than barging
Rocky Barker – The Idaho Statesman.

Feds: No major changes for Columbia Basin salmon

Judge Redden said the Bush Plan for salmon wasn’t good enough, Obama thinks it is.

Well, here is another example of how the Obama Administration has followed the lead of the Bush Administration on environmental issues. As we can see from the Gulf Oil Spill those policies are literally a disaster. While salmon returns have been good the last few years and numbers are high for returning Chinook this year, it should be pointed out that the bulk of these fish are hatchery fish and not those protected under the ESA. It should also be noted that the return of jacks, or male Chinook that spend only one year in the ocean as compared to two or three, is about 72% of the 10-year average which is an indication that next year’s run will likely be lower.

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Panel recommends spilling, barging of salmon

Mixed strategy recommended by independent panel for 2010

Chinook Salmon © Ken Cole

NOAA Fisheries wanted to barge all of the salmon from the Snake River around the dams and not spill any water over them because of the low water year that is predicted to be 54% of the normal flow. An independent panel said no and suggested that there be spill and barging due to a host of problems as a result of barging.

Some suggest that NOAA Fisheries wanted to avoid spilling so that more power could be generated by the dams.

Meanwhile the chinook salmon are returning in high numbers over Bonneville Dam with 7762 on the 19th and a cumulative total of 47721 spring chinook this year. You can see the numbers at the Fish Passage Center website.

Panel recommends spilling, barging of salmon
BY KEVIN MCCULLEN, HERALD STAFF WRITER

Excellent Idaho steelhead season is getting underway

These sea-run rainbow trout are now moving well up the Salmon and Clearwater Rivers-

The season has been good so far. Now the fish are moving well upstream. I see the average time to catch one is about 5 hours, depending on your fishing location.

Roger Phillips’ Fish Rap: Steelhead fishing is heating up a cold winterIdaho Statesman

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Steelhead counts at Bonneville Dam on the Colombia River shatter one-day records !!

Of course, you can’t truly count them until they are in Idaho rivers, but so far a very strong run-

For those not familiar with the Columbia River and its tributaries, Bonneville Dam is first dam anadromous fish have to cross on the Columbia River on their journey home to spawn.

Steelie counts at Bonneville Dam on the Colombia River shatter record. By Roger Phillips. Idaho Statesman.

A new twist in dam removal on the Snake River

My biggest Chinook. © Ken Cole

My biggest Chinook. © Ken Cole

Recently Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) announced that in talks about salmon recovery that dam breaching should be on the table. It’s not an endorsement of dam breaching but it is a departure from former Senator Craig’s stance.

On top of this development comes a letter to politicians signed by several business owners in Lewiston and Clarkston who will be affected whatever happens to the dams.

If the dams are breached then river transportation will go away. If they stay then the cities will require significant infrastructure to keep the rising waters from flooding them due to the fact that the dams are filling with sediment.

One interesting thing mentioned in the letter is that the promised economic boom from dam construction never came.

I argue that the dams should be removed for various reasons, not least of which being the ecological benefits of recovered salmon.

A new twist in dam removal on the Snake River
By Lance Dickie
Seattle Times editorial columnist

Crapo takes a politically risky stand for salmon
Commentary: Kevin Richert – Idaho Statesman

Idaho steelhead season looks good

For deep inlanders, steelhead are sea-run rainbow trout — big anadromous fish like salmon. Unlike salmon, steelhead don’t spawn and die, but return to the ocean (although in reality few fish survive to run and spawn a second time). Steelhead lose the characteristic red band (the rainbow) that freshwater rainbow trout have.

Idaho’s steelhead runs have held up a lot better than its salmon runs, and they provide a lot of income to small central Idaho communities in late March until the end of May.

Steelhead counts indicate good fishing. By Jason Kauffman. Idaho Mountain Express Staff Writer

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