Idaho's Redfish Lake

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Steve Buckner, Nov 22, 2007.

  1. 509

    509 New Member

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    Wind turbines have not been in Europe for decades, unless your confusing dutch windmills with the current montrosities!!! It is a new thing.

    Altamont Pass turbines in California have killed many migratory birds of prey. Do a search on any scientific web site.

    As much as I hate windmills...the new ones are have a much more bird friendly. Not sure what their kill rate is compared to the old turbines.
    At one time I saw some statistics...google it.

    Wind Power still sucks. It is not a solution.
     
  2. Jergens

    Jergens AKA Joe Willauer

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    i haven't heard of any native bird populations being pushed to near extinction by wind turbines lately, which is what dams are doing to salmon. i don't think that we will ever see the columbia river dams come out, but the idea of taking columbia tributary dams out should be taken more seriously. Clean, renewable energy actually doesn't suck.
     
  3. 509

    509 New Member

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    Wind Power does suck....It doesn't contribute to the base load issue. It takes acres and acres of land to generate on a relative basis very little power. It is noisy.

    It is ugly. Go fish the Touchet River with those ugly towers above the river. Do we need to make our natural lands as ugly as our cities??

    The Altamont Pass wind turbines killed birds of prey at a rapid clip. Then when the tax code changed in 1987 they became rusting hulks on the landscape. Same thing is going to happen again. Eastern Washington this time will have these ugly towers scattered across the landscape, so some urban folks can feel good about destroying the landscape. Sorry if I wanted ugly I would have moved to Seattle.

    Oh, I'm not against so called alternative power....my house runs on solar. I know all about the advantages and disadvantages of alternative power.

    But what you can do as a "salmon killer" that lives on the grid....is to pretend that you live on solar power. Cut your electric consumption to 10-15% of current. That's what off-grid folks live on...you can do it without changing your quality of life.

    Turn off the porch light at night. Ask the city to turn off the street lights after 10:00pm. No advertising lights. Get rid of instant on applicances. Switch to energy efficient lights. Its easy.....if you and six million Washingtonians would do it we could easily remove the four dams, plus the city of Seattle's dam on the Skagit, plus the coal fired plant at Centralia and Boardman.

    Just because you don't have solar power doesn't mean you shouldn't conserve electricity.
     
  4. David Dalan

    David Dalan 69°19'15.35" N 18°44'22.74" E

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    For the record I agree 100%. The Columbia fish stocks (including Red Fish Sockeye) had already been significantly impacted (mostly by unfettered commercial harvest, but some nasty habitat loss from logging as well) by the time the dams went in.

    I know there is a rearing facility, but what I am suggesting is doing the work in a location where their ability to migrate back as adults (though some in the breeding program never leave the pens) is less impaired. Probably lots of reasons not to do it, but I thought it sounded plausible :)

     
  5. Jergens

    Jergens AKA Joe Willauer

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    509, totally agree with you about personal consumption and especially with your point that if we all did our part those dams could be removed. i happen to disagree with your comments about the windmills being ugly and noisy as a motive for not putting them up, and it is a complete matter of personal preference. i lived in Ellensburg up until this fall (over a year with the wind farm on whiskey dick ridge) and was never bothered by the sight, and definitely never heard them. I also attended several planning and county commission meetings about the wind-farms and the reasons to not put them in are varied and some downright comical (light induced seizures). Although they do not contribute a huge amount of energy to the grid every little bit helps, and i think personal conservation combined with alternative energy sources could have an impact.


    iagree
     
  6. David Dalan

    David Dalan 69°19'15.35" N 18°44'22.74" E

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    Not to start an argument, but I find dams and the mud puddles they create incredibly unasthetic. The mouth of the Tucannon is a swamp where a slough joins a mud puddle instead of a rolling stream joining a mighty river.

    Absolute tragedy. I fish the Tucannon, Touchet and WW and I don't think I have found the wind farms ugly enough to get my attention. I'd trade spinning blades on every hilltop for the chance to actually SEE Texas rapids with my own eyes. Or visit the Marms Rockshelter (without SCUBA gear).

    Aesthetics is all relative.
     
  7. 509

    509 New Member

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    I agree, but we need to stop adding to the ugliness!!
     
  8. Zen Piscator

    Zen Piscator Supporting wild steelhead, gravel to gravel.

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    I don't mind the wind farms, they represent change in the right direction. As more and more are built they are becoming increasingly cost effective, behind hydro power they are the most efficient alternative energy source we have.
     
  9. cabezon

    cabezon Sculpin Enterprises

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    A sidebar from the fate of the sockeye in Redfish Lake. The site of the Altamont Pass turbines, one of the first major wind turbine operations in the west, ended up in a major flyway for migratory birds, especially raptors, hence the high mortality rate which they caused. Newer project are required to survey migratory birds and that information is used as part of the decision on location. Wind turbines can be a substantial economic boost to farmers on whose lands they are placed. This has the potential to slow the ranchettification (new word) of eastern Washington.

    There are a number of interesting demonstration projects underway for tidal or wave power. As the engineering bugs are worked out, it will be interesting to see how possible impacts on marine organisms (and marine organisms on the generators) is worked out.

    Even if wind power is intermittant, its green power could be stored (Google a storage hydroelectic dam) or used to generate hydrogen as a fuel.

    Steve
     
  10. 509

    509 New Member

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    Living in eastern Washington I think tidal is a great solution. However, I noticed that when the proposal was made for study on Deception Pass the opposition even opposed the study.

    In the end it is all about political power as to who gets screwed.

    You can store power for peaking purposes. The mid-Columbia PUD's made that proposal using power produced during peak flows from the Columbia in the mid 1990's . It was dropped due to opposition from various groups. I'm not sure that wind power used to move water uphill is any different than peak river flows.

    The point is that given today's population levels and the urban disconnect from natural resources it is hard to get anything done. That is unless we import and therefore export the ecological impacts to other countries.

    Following wood and oil, don't be surprised if in a few years Canada is building dams to supply additional power to Washington state.

    If you want to see the impacts of the Clinton Forest Plan do a google fly over British Columbia.

    At some point this madness must end.
     
  11. Citori

    Citori Piscatorial Engineer

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    Sharpshooter,

    There have been earlier posts on this site about the time those Snake R. dam turbines actually turn, and it isn't much. So while the potential exists that they COULD generate significant amounts of power, the fact is that they have not, and likely will never...seems when the Snake R. water is available to turn the turbines, there is plenty of power in the grid, so that contribution is not needed.

    The truth is that the reasons for the dams never existed - they are run of the river dams, so they do not provide flood protection, they do not impound irrigation water, and their power is not needed. Everyone knows they should go...but the political issues prevent that decision.

    Please take a moment to read this Editorial from the Idaho Statesman

    Posted July 23, 2007:
    From Sunday, July 23, 2007 Idaho Daily Statesman

    Our View: The case for breaching is stronger than ever - Idaho Statesman
    Edition Date: 07/22/07

    On July 20, 1997, the Idaho Statesman published its first editorial supporting the removal of four lower Snake River dams — a bold step that will best preserve Idaho's salmon, and best protect Idaho's water users. Ten years later, the dams remain in place. Idaho chinook salmon returns lag 34 percent behind their 1997 pace. Amidst a continuing drought, Idaho water users battle for a share of a finite source. What happened?

    And what happens next?

    1997

    "Four dams in Washington are holding Idaho's economy hostage. The dams on the Lower Snake River once provided cheap power and hope for economic prosperity for Lewiston. But now these dams are a burden on Idaho and the Northwest.

    "The region won't be set free until the salmon and steelhead these dams kill are recovered and balance is restored to our economy, environment and culture.

    "This can't be done unless the four Lower Snake River dams — Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental, Little Goose and Lower Granite — are breached."

    Those words are as true as they were in July 1997. The argument for breaching, if anything, is stronger.

    Idaho's salmon are a decade closer to extinction. Our economy remains hostage to outmoded out-of-state dams — and to the political gridlock that protects them, at the expense of the salmon.

    1998

    The Idaho Fish and Game Commission — a panel answering to Republican Gov. Phil Batt, and headed by Fred Wood, now a GOP state legislator from Burley — said returning the lower Snake River to its natural state offers the best solution for saving salmon and steelhead.

    The commission stopped short of endorsing breaching, but came refreshingly close. Said Keith Carlson, a commissioner from Lewiston: ‘‘We're loud and clear — the dams are the problem.''

    The dams still are the problem. And there's a related problem: a speak-no-evil syndrome. Political leaders in Idaho, the state that would most benefit from breaching, refuse to acknowledge the damage inflicted by the dams.

    1999

    Fifty-eight miles upriver from the Atlantic Ocean, more than 2,000 miles from Idaho salmon country, the federal government made history. For the first time, the feds removed a dam for environmental purposes, against the will of its owner.

    Since the removal of the Edwards Dam, the Kennebec River has rebounded. Fish numbers are up. Water quality has improved. The words of then-Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt proved prophetic. "What we are doing today is an act of creation. This is the beginning of something that is going to happen across the nation."

    Indeed, more than 200 dams have gone down since then, according to the conservation group American Rivers. Other removal efforts are in the works. Yet the lower Snake dams remain in place, blocking Idaho's river ecosystem from returning to its full potential.

    2000

    In its final days in office, this same Clinton administration took no action on breaching the lower Snake dams. Instead, their salmon recovery plan established a series of three-, five- and eight-year milestones for the Bush administration. All this while acknowledging dam operations threaten salmon.

    U.S. District Judge James Redden rejected the Clinton plan.

    By punting to a Bush administration that would prove openly hostile to breaching, the Clinton White House squandered its last chance to advance salmon recovery in Idaho. And in 2009, the next administration, Republican or Democrat, is likely to assume control over Idaho salmon runs that remain in peril — after nearly two decades on the feds' endangered species list.

    2001

    For one brief moment, Idaho salmon enjoyed a renaissance. The counts at the Lower Granite Dam near Lewiston — the last dam standing between Snake River salmon and their Idaho spawning grounds — had never been higher. Rural Idaho communities such as Stanley and Riggins reeled in nearly a $90 million haul from the salmon fishing season.

    This has proven to be only a tease, for Idaho anglers and communities alike. Idahoans cannot plan on a salmon fishing season; opportunities come only when fish return in "surplus" numbers that exceed what's needed to sustain hatchery operations. Idaho communities cannot hope for the economic bounty that could come from annual fishing — some $544 million a year, according to a February 2005 study by Boise economist Don Reading.

    However, anglers and entrepreneurs won't pour this kind of money in small-town Idaho until, or unless, salmon return consistently. And Idaho salmon runs haven't come close to duplicating 2001.

    2002

    The study's findings seemed novel at the time: Global warming could cut into the West's snowpack, drying up the region's water supply just as growth increases the demand. The region could face an unsavory choice: Use water for hydroelectric production or use it to help spring and summer salmon run.

    Now, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography report seems prescient. The effects of climate change, such as reduced snowpack, are accepted enough that even Idaho Gov. Butch Otter admits to the possibility. The specter of global warming has even turned fisheries biologist Don Chapman into a breaching advocate; Chapman had spent a professional career arguing for dams, and against breaching, as a respected consultant for the hydro industry.

    Breaching doesn't just help Idaho salmon; it helps Idaho water users. As long as young salmon continue fighting around dams, with limited success, Idaho will face continued pressure to release more water to flush the fish around the dams. In a time of global warming, drought and growth, Idaho needs to assume greater control over its precious water.

    2003

    The Northwest's four governors — including then-Gov. Dirk Kempthorne — issued a series of salmon recommendations that accurately describe the region's politics. "The challenge for the Columbia Basin is to overcome the propensity for paralysis."

    Five pages later, the governors weaken their call to action by rejecting — flatly — the quickest path to salmon preservation. "Breaching the four lower Snake River dams must not be an option."

    Crafting a salmon solution will be inherently complicated, involving four states, Northwest tribes and an acronym amalgam of federal agencies. But when the region's leaders gather at the table, Idaho leaders need to remember one point: the lower Snake dams impact Idaho's fish. When they join neighboring states in opposition to breaching, they literally sell our fish down the river.

    2004

    Rather than talking about breaching, the feds instead tried to lower the bar for salmon recovery. They pushed a plan to allow them to count wild salmon and hatchery fish interchangeably in measuring salmon recovery.

    Even the feds acknowledged that some research points to "behavioral differences that result in diminished fitness and survival of hatchery fish relative to naturally spawned populations." Let's be clear. This wasn't about the science, and was all about the numbers. Weaker hatchery-raised fish are more abundant, comprising 80 percent of salmon runs, so their numbers do inflate salmon counts.

    Last month, a federal judge rejected the feds' numbers game, providing a lesson to the Northwest. It's not about numbers; it's about saving the wild fish that will save the species.

    2005

    It was bad enough for President Bush to stand at Ice Harbor Dam — as he did in August 2003 — and assert that his administration had taken significant steps to help salmon. It was preposterous for his administration to go to court and smugly suggest that these same man-made dams are simply part of the natural river system that salmon must navigate.

    Enter Redden, with a ruling that finally reopened the breaching debate.

    In a May 2005 ruling, the judge rejected the bogus premise of dams as a natural component of the river. He also offered an honest appraisal of the state of salmon, 4 1/2 years into Bush's tenure. "It is apparent that the listed species are in serious decline and not evidencing signs of recovery."

    2006

    The dams' backers talk about what would be lost to breaching: a source of about 5 percent of the region's electricity, a slackwater river linking the Port of Lewiston to the Pacific. What if we pay for these tangible but replaceable amenities with both our salmon and our tax dollars?

    An unusual alliance of fish advocates and budget hawks advanced this argument last fall. In their study, titled "Revenue Stream," they argue that breaching would reduce the cost of salmon recovery efforts, saving taxpayers and Northwest ratepayers $2 billion to $5 billion over 20 years.

    This wasn't the first study to suggest the dams simply don't pencil out. It's another reminder that dam breaching is a national issue.

    In an era of federal deficits, how much use will Congress have for dams that indiscriminately chew up fish and swallow up tax dollars?

    2007

    At least 65 members of Congress want to have a sober discussion, based in facts, about the future of the dams.

    They have co-sponsored a bill to assign the General Accounting Office, the auditing arm of Congress, to study the pros and cons of breaching. They want to know how breaching would affect jobs, irrigation, transportation and energy.

    It's a start — years later than we would have hoped. But breaching, when it occurs, will bring tumultuous transition to the Northwest's economy. Change, however justified, is never easy. We believe a GAO study will not only make the case for breaching, but suggest the parameters for building a region without the four dams.

    2017

    Salmon embody endurance. Idaho's sockeye climb 6,500 feet and swim 900 miles to reach Redfish Lake — as their ancestors have for 10,000 years. But no sockeye have returned yet this year and only 349 have reached the Stanley Basin since 1997 — less than three dozen fish a year. A species that has survived for millennia is fast running out of decades.

    What will we be able to say about ourselves 10 years from now? Did we stand up to protect fish that are a symbol of everything that is best and most wild about Idaho? Or did we stand up for a symbol of a bygone dam-building age?

    We stand where we stood a decade ago and repeat what we said on July 20, 1997: "Breaching the four dams is not a step backward. It is a step forward."

    It is also, more than ever, a necessary step.

    "Our View" is the editorial position of the Idaho Statesman. It is an unsigned opinion expressing the consensus of the Statesman's editorial board. To comment on an editorial or suggest a topic, e-mail editorial@idahostatesman.com.
    __________________
     
  12. BFK

    BFK Member

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    An interesting read filched from another site:

    News from the Front #90:
    What If Columbia and Snake River Dams Were Helping Salmon?
    Of course no one believes that pushing salmon smolts through a turbine is helping them. But as billions of dollars generated by the dams are invested in structural improvements, fish production, habitat improvements, and control of natural predators, the possibility emerges that all these efforts have generated a river system that, on balance, is more survivable for fish than a natural river system.

    Last week, Northwest Fishletter obtained an internal memorandum from the National Marine Fisheries Service summarizing recent studies addressing that question. The memorandum presents estimates of smolt survival in the Columbia and Snake Rivers as compared with the unregulated, unimpounded Fraser River in British Columbia, and the regulated but unimpounded Sacramento River in California.

    · Juvenile survival through the Columbia and Snake Rivers was recently measured at 56% for chinook and 39.2% for steelhead.

    · Juvenile survival through the Fraser River was recently measured at 24% for chinook and 30% for steelhead.

    · Juvenile survival through the Sacramento River was recently measured at 2% for chinook and 5% for steelhead.

    So on first appearances, survival down the Columbia and Snake Rivers is higher than in other, roughly comparable rivers without any dams that smolts must pass. This is not really a surprising result for those who follow science rather than public opinion. A leading treatise, Pacific Salmon Life Histories, reported several years ago that roughly 70% of fish die while migrating downstream in all rivers. One interesting feature in this data is that steelhead survival is higher up and down the West Coast except on the Columbia, which may be related to ongoing efforts to spill water at dams; earlier this year excessive spill was poisoning up to 66% of late-migrating juvenile steelhead. Steelhead, being a game fish by statute, seems to get short shrift in a system that seems to be run by commercial harvest interests.

    One can certainly quibble with the details. The measurements for the other rivers are taken further downstream. Predator densities are highest below Bonneville Dam, so the Columbia and Snake River numbers above need a downward adjustment—perhaps 10% more mortality, perhaps more. The Sacramento River measurements were in a particularly warm, dry year. One might question effects on adults, though radio-tagging studies suggest that adults move upstream through dams and reservoirs faster than in a natural river.

    A more exact analysis could easily show adverse effects from the dams, as compared to a more natural, dam-free river, but those effects would be small, and probably not enough to make much difference at all to adult returns. Here is a recent graph of the relationship between downstream steelhead survival and adult returns:


    Juvenile survival through the Columbia and Snake Rivers explains only one percent of the variance in adult returns; the number is higher for chinook.

    The NMFS memo is careful to say that the data from other rivers are “preliminary” and “it is not appropriate to imply their meaning regarding policy issues at this time”. But one wonders when it will be time for Northwesterners to wake up and realize that the massive and continuing campaign against the dams is based on very significant misrepresentations. Powerful interests (investor-owned utilities) have earned hundreds of millions of dollars annually from reducing power production at the publicly-owned dams on the Columbia and Snake Rivers. They get to sell the power instead from their own plants. Powerful harvest interests, such as Northwest Tribes and commercial fishing interests from Oregon to Alaska, all distract the public from the largest sources of human-induced mortality: continuing overfishing. Almost no one is left to speak in defense of the dams, as even the organizations ostensibly founded to protect them have lined up in support of the latest draft biological opinion pushing the same old misrepresentations.

    Pretending that the dams are killing most of the fish (rather than Mother Nature) saddles us all with billions in increased electric rates, and funnels millions of tons of additional carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually. Even if fish advocates don’t care about that, they ought to be wondering whether all this focus on dams distracts sportsfishing interests from what is really needed: sensible harvest and hatchery management. Why on earth do we take money from every taxpayer to release hatchery fish that aren’t fin-clipped, so only the Tribes can keep them? Why does a small Northwest minority with rights to “fish in common with all citizens” get to take the vast majority of salmon and steelhead out of the river? Why do sportsfishing interests get thrown off the river with paltry allocations while gillnets continue to decimate salmon and steelhead runs? In large part, it is because sportsfishing interests are distracted with constant fraudulent attacks on dams and landowners that have no reasonable prospect of putting more fish in the river to catch.

    © James Buchal, November 7, 2007

    You have permission to reprint this article, and are encouraged to do so. The sooner people figure out what's going on, the quicker we'll have more fish in the rivers.
    Return to Other Salmon Materials
    Return to www.buchal.com
     
  13. gt

    gt Active Member

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    nice right wingnut source you quote from. check out this guys briefs and their appropriately brief descriptions.
     
  14. BFK

    BFK Member

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    So basically, gt, you have nothing to say or refute what Buchal says...typical of most of your arguments. Are you still looking for your "Florida-sized iceberg"?
     
  15. Will Atlas

    Will Atlas Guest

    BFK,

    The data you're citing is misconstrued to meet a political end. Just like those 'science' reports which recently concluded that removal of Snake River dams would not reduce spring chinooks likelihood of extinction. The fact is however, that dams are unnatural sources of mortality and have lengthened the duration of juvenile outmigrations in the columbia river as much as four fold. Some years the impacts of dams are more severe than others. Dams may not be the ONLY problem, but they are certainly the most substantial and I dont understand why folks are so opposed to removing dams such as those on the lower Snake. The benefits to Salmon and Steelhead are undeniable, and the lost electrical power and shipping could easily be compensated for. Anyone who says the dams on the columbia river aren't contributing to the extirpation of salmon from the watershed is 100% full of it, and you are too if you think folks with any sense are going to buy that drivel.

    Cheers,
    Will
     
  16. greyghost

    greyghost Member

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    Anyone who thinks that the Columbia/Snake River dams are helping native salmon runs are either a) insane, or b) have a vested interest in the survival of said dams. Mr. Buchal is a well educated, successful attorney..... can anyone guess what the correct answer is?
     
  17. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member

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    BFK,

    Mr. Buchal is on the take. He's no friend of the salmon and steelhead. He's no friend of rivers. He's no friend of the natural world. He and his ilk are the problem. Taking the time to list the citations to refute Buchal is time wasted. He's about the highest on the list of those not worth the effort. However he can be sort of entertaining in a Cheech and Chong sort of way.

    Sg
     
  18. David Dalan

    David Dalan 69°19'15.35" N 18°44'22.74" E

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    What the numbers say is that for hundreds of millions of dollars a year you can take a decimated river filled with dams and get basically the same survival as a river with no obstructions. How much money is spent on barging, facility wiers and special diversion facilites on the Fraser? That would be about $0.

    Ironically, I think there is a strong suggestion from these percentages that the Snake would probably experience a significant increase in smolt survival (and thus adult returns) if the dams were removed. Again this is because the "comparable survival" is only being achieved with highly invasive management practices.
     
  19. Jergens

    Jergens AKA Joe Willauer

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    iagree

    i wonder if we will ever see the snake dams come out, sure would be cool!
     
  20. Steve Buckner

    Steve Buckner Mother Nature's Son

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    Another item for consideration (because the article mentions a comparison between the Fraser and the Columbia) is to simply compare the number of returning fish to each system today. The Fraser dwarfs the Columbia by a long shot. Somehow that point wasn't mentioned...

    Geographically those two systems aren't too far apart so I think it would be tough to look at the oceanic survival rate as the culprit. Also, both systems are impacted by netting, yet that hasn't had the same effect on the Fraser as it has on the Columbia. That said, I do want to make clear that I'm not underestimating the decimating power of netting however! Although cleary habitat in the upper stretches has degraded, it's probably good enough to support fish in both the upper Columbia/Snake river systems. The major difference is clearly the dams. Here in Washington, look what's happened to runs of wild fish on the Cowlitz, Elwha, Skagit, Deschutes, (rivers that all have dams).

    In fact, to take it a step further, compare any rivers that are not dammed to those that are and you'll find a significant difference. Sure their are some exceptions, but it's a generally true statement. At this point in time, we have more than enough data from analyzing river systems both here and in Europe to understand that the major obstacle for native anadromous fish are the dams (and people).

    The common theme to the loss of our wild places and the species that once lived their are humans. We over-harvested the rivers, built the dams, built the hatcheries, and use up the resources. Our footprint on the land is increasingly visible on so many levels, this just being another example. The question before us now is if we're willing to change our lifestyles, and if not, accept the consequences. As an angler and one who enjoys the last wild places, I'm hoping for the former.
     

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