Idaho's Redfish Lake

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

  1. o mykiss

    o mykiss Active Member

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    I heard a story on NPR last night about a big wind farm being erected in Noland County, Texas. It will ultimately generate enough electricity to power 265,000 homes. (I didn't do the research, but my gut tells me that's at least as much as the four Snake River dams produce.) Carbon emissions per year: 0. Carbon emissions per year for a coal fired power plant that generates the same amount of electricity: 220 million tons. The old dry land cotton farmers down there, probably most of whom are global warming skeptics, seemed pleased as punch to have them erected on their land. I'm sure there are a lot of places in this state where they would make sense. I find the ones over by E'burg quite lovely to look at. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, though.
     
  2. inland

    inland Active Member

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    sharpshooter,

    The 4 lower dams are the single biggest factor inhibiting the Snake River populations. PERIOD. They don't produce squat for power.

    Wind farms are ugly. So what. How exactly is a mass proliferation of wind farms going to make your beloved ducks go extinct? Ah well we can always just replace those ducks with farm raised ones to be released for 'canned hunts'. Hell, with a little human ingenuity we should be able to make a better farm raised duck to better reproduce in the wild. In fact it would be even better if those farm raised ducks helped to eliminate the wild ones in the process too. That way we don't have to worry about any restrictions pertaining to how the habitat is used to make a buck...because the wild ducks are now extinct. Win/win for everybody...right???

    Can you kindly point me to the studies showing the lower snake dams to be not nearly as lethal as is believed? Really curious because my rocket scientist way of looking at simple data shows a disturbing trend as each project was completed. Go to the DART website and pull up the historical fish counts starting with Ice Harbor. Mind you those initial years were nearly 100% wild fish. Look and see the near immediate extinction of coho. Next to crumble was the sockeye. Then chinook. And lastly the steelhead. All the kings men can't save the sockeye (even though their genes are cryo-preserved- yippee more zoo critters). I know, I know...it was something else that caused/is causing the fish to circle the drain. Can't be those dams...

    The truth is these fish were nearly destroyed from the commercial fisheries prior to the mass proliferation of columbia power dams. Hatcheries were sold to the politicians instead of harvest and habitat control as a means to have our cake and eat it too. Hence why we are continually arguing about dam removal. And why people have this stupid idea in their head that hatchery fish are the answer. Never have been. Never will be.

    What I do KNOW is those 4 dams are going to eventually cause the total extinction of WILD fish in the Snake. With no change to the current status quo management...removing those 4 dams and allowing a free flowing river will all but guarantee the remaining wild populations a 'get out of jail free card' concerning extinction. Certainly doesn't mean the populations will immediately rebound to unheard of levels- if they rebound much at all. It means they won't vanish (in fact you might even see the sockeye start to naturally rebound). That in and of itself is worth fighting for.

    Add in some safeguards to allow the spawning habitat to heal faster then it's degraded, reduce hatchery reliance, and strictly control ocean/in river harvest...and poof there will be lots of wild fish. Just like has happened throughout time.

    Do you have any idea how many times the Columbia/Snake basin ecosystem has been nearly wiped out over geological time? And yet the fish (and critters and plants and so on) somehow repopulated it to produce the biggest salmon runs in the history of the planet. All without the hand of homo sapiens sapiens.

    You can attack all the other problems (besides dams) and it will matter not- the fish will still end up vanishing. There are volumes of data pointing to this conclusion. But maybe you know something the hundreds of scientists (that have made this their life's work) don't know.

    William
     
  3. Will Atlas

    Will Atlas Guest

    William,

    Nice post.

    sharp,

    Stop posting. You've said the same thing 456 times and it isnt getting any more right. Who cares if wind farms are ugly, extinction of snake river salmon is uglier. And what, the dams on the lower snake are majestically beautiful spectacles of modern engineering? As far as the migratory bird problem, large turbines actually turn slow enough they rarely ever kill migratory birds.

    BFK,

    I agree dams arent the only problem on the columbia, but they are hands down the biggest (hatcheries are a huge problem too). As far as Sea Lions and sea birds eating salmon and salmon smolts, how do you think they are so successful? Humans have changed the habitat in their favor and they're capitalizing. Predation is a natural part of any ecosystem, it's the way humans alter those ecosystems that tip the balance in favor of the predators that is the real problem.

    Great thread guys. Seriously this and the dog thread have got to be two of my top 10 WFF threads of all time. Some very intelligent, passionate and informed folks on here. We should start an interest group!

    Will
     
  4. gt

    gt Active Member

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    farm raised ducks, wow, why didn't i think of that before. what a swell idea. throw'um out there and blast away. you suppose there is an equivalent of bobber fishin' for ducks?

    BTW, sealions were common place at celilo falls each and every year. the difference right now is the marine mammal protection act which has allowed their population to explode.
     
  5. David Dalan

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

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    Wind turbine maximum output ~1 MW. Ice Harbor Dam max output ~300 MW. 300 turbines (less than a year to install) offsets the capacity of one of the Dams. I'm not trying to be misleading, most wind turbines don't produce max potential, but then IH is often producing ~30% (again according to some perhaps aged data) or ~100 MW.

    So, in a manner of speaking, there is a relatively timely replacement for any power loss from the removal of the dams.

    But Windmills vs. Hydro power is a red herring (look it up). Nobody has proposed an "alternate power source" since the ones in place are not really needed. Efficiency and facilities upgrades at the BPA, and your home or business, would more than offset any loss.

    To understand the resistance on the USACE part, you need to taste a bit of their culture. They are not in the business of leaving natural systems to do their own thing. At the core the USACE (by action, if not expressly stated) thinks all natural processes (especially water) needs some additional engineering.

    The USACE are behind some of the nation’s greatest tragedies. Including...

    - Dewatering the everglades so we could have cheap tomatoes. Now they are undoing some of that. Because they were forced to.

    - Destruction of the Mississippi delta (and by proxy responsible for much of the flood devastation form Katrina) with dikes and dredging. And dams.

    - The near destruction of the lower Snake river

    - Countless other small irrigation, diversion, shipping and ??? hydrologic projects.


    The USACE and their marketing machine (they lobby HARD for their particular perspective) are not interested in putting things back. Make no mistake...if the USACE knew the fish would recover 100% with the removal of the Snake dams, they would still be in opposition.
     
  6. gt

    gt Active Member

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    i can guarantee 'yah that if the wheat farmers along the snake had a ridge that proved to be a reliable source of wind, they would ALL jump on the bandwagon. the residuals they recieve for siting these power generators would let them retire, today, in grand comfort. it will eventually boil down to someone getting that economic information into the hands of these small business folks and then watch it happen.

    and you are correct, david, the corp has never, once, considered our environment or the negative impact they have created, time after time.
     
  7. Allison

    Allison Banned or Parked

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    Couple randon thoughts:

    Thomas Dolby's song, "Windpower", great song.

    Do we have any good data on wind farms and their effects on migratory birds, especially in our area? I'm still undecided, but this would be the deal-maker/breaker for me.
     
  8. Steve Buckner

    Steve Buckner Mother Nature's Son

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    One other item to consider it that regardless of how our electricity is made, thousands of birds (a gross underestimation) are killed annually by electrocution, raptors in particular. I'd put money on it that more birds are killed from landing on a power pole/structure than would ever be killed from those blades spinning.

    Also, migratory birds have specific fly ways and when they're on migration, they fly at an altitude that is much higher than the windfarms, and in many/most situations, may not fly by them at all. As far as an energry source, IMHO, windfarms are the least detrimental to surrounding flora/fauna. Granted, those blades are spinning and will undoubtedly take some birds out but I'd bet that the overall mortality from wind farms is far less than that of the current dam situation. At least in the case of wind farms they do not directly threaten a given species to extinction.
     
  9. David Dalan

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

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    I never studied it, mostly becasue I see it as a completely separate issue. The mills are being built because they are subsidized (EDIT: as are the dams), not because there is lots of demand (there is political demand, but that's a different issue). Various tax incentives are involved as well making them profitable-ish.

    1.9 cents per kilowatt-hour is the number I found for the direct subsidy.

    Again, there is no immediate need to replace lost power production. It's be cheaper/more effective to apply the faciltiy maint $$ (cost of maintaining the dams) to a power subsidy to defray and increased costs, real or imagined.

    The "mills vs. dams" is a (cause I love this phrase) a Red Herring.
     
  10. o mykiss

    o mykiss Active Member

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    The latest plan from the feds for the Columbia/Snake river conservation efforts was supposed to cost $6 billion over 10 years. The plan centered on keeping the dams in. Now admittedly that $6 billion subsidy would go to more than just power production (e.g., barge transportation), but you seem to be implying that windmills involve a subsidy and dams don't. Maybe I misunderstood your point, but if I didn't I'd beg to differ. Dams are hugely subsidized.
     
  11. David Dalan

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

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    If I implied the dams are not subsidized, I apologize. They are a huge drain on federal monies. That cost is where I assume the money could come from to defray the impacts of thier removal.

    I was just trying to reiterate that its not a Windfarm v Dams issue and that (without subsidy) the farms would likely not be built anyway.

    That's all :)

     
  12. Zen Piscator

    Zen Piscator Supporting wild steelhead, gravel to gravel.

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    Sharp,
    You have got to use some critical thought man. There isn't anything more here than what is being presented, these dams are idiotic cold war relics that have no place in our river basin.

    Lets talk a bit about birds vs fish hatcheries:

    At ringgold and lyons ferry fish hatcheries, some of the larger ones operating on the columbia/snake basin, hunters are paid to kill birds around the hatchery. I spoke to a hunter last year, and while they mainly kill preditory ducks all brids except rapters are fair game. The dude i spoke to said he kills several mallards each day because they make more money if they are perceived to be killing more birds. I'm not making this up sharp.

    If those dams go out these hatcherys will go away and the brids will be allowed to fly un-inhibited along the river again.

    Peace,
    Andy
     
  13. HauntedByWaters

    HauntedByWaters Active Member

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    I will tell you why I think politicians and dam profiteers are afraid to take out these dams, especially the ones that are doing nothing.

    The reason they don't want to do it is because of the fear that it will be WILDLY successful for salmon and steelhead.

    Imagine the masses hearing of the wonderful story of how taking out these meaningless dams saved multiple races of nearly extinct fish.

    This would make a lot more people take the side of dam removal in the case of saving migratory fish.

    It would make it harder for politicians and dam profiteers to play the smoke and mirrors game and tell us there are "better" solutions.

    It would make it A LOT harder for dams in general after that.

    This is why the Elwa has had its dam for so long. Slate Gordon knew that removing that dam and its positive effect on fish would turn heads. This is why he was so heavy handed with that dam and making sure nothing happened. (BTW, I know about the silt pile up, but that is a temporary problem and is not the reason the dam has been there for decades and decades and decades doing nothing)

    I can't wait to see that dam come down and the aftermath. It may be the metaphorical hole in the dam for dams........:)
     
  14. David Dalan

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

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    Slade held the funding for the Elwah removal for ransom. He wanted a rider (on the appropriations bill that would pay for the Elwah removal) that said the Snake river dams would not be removed. Period.

    Scumbag.

    On the bright side, the holes are already appearing. At least one of the dams removed on the East coast is already yielding big ROI. Elwah will do the same. I absolutely guarantee it. Just remember I said that :)

    Salmon are vagabonds. Once the upper Elwah is open they'll scurry up there the first return year. Fish were looking for places to spawn in the Toutle the spring of 1981. Even with all the ash, the fish went looking for new ground. That's just what they do. It's how they (salmonids) managed to occupy almost every drainage from Japan, to AK, to Mexico. They've managed to survive a hundred and fifty years of (more or less) unchecked habitat destruction and commercial harvest.

    Give 'em a chance and watch 'em work. :thumb:
     
  15. Will Atlas

    Will Atlas Guest

    speaking of fish colonizing rivers, I work for a grad student at UW that is following the progress of salmon colonizing above landsburg dam on the Cedar River. He's doing some great work and the salmon are colonizing 100% independent of hatcheries. This year 400 chinook passed over the dam, this from a founding generation of about 80 strays. I think that is about as promising as any work that's been done on Salmon colonization and makes a strong case for allowing the Elwha to recover independent of hatcheries. If anyone is interested in his work, shoot me a PM and I can email you a copy of the papers.

    Will
     
  16. sharpshooter223

    sharpshooter223 Member

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    im not against taking dams out, i just think we should find a better energy source to replace them with than wind turbines. or, if its possible to improve the dams so the same effect is made, rather than destroy them, why not. find a better source of energy that is a reasonable replacement for the dams and im all for it, however if that were to happen i think we should create some nice sized lakes somewhere by where the old dam created lakes were in order to provide some nice smallmouth/walleye lake fishing.
     
  17. David Dalan

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

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    Nah..."We" should move to the other side of the Rockies (where these fish should have been left) and not drag the non-native fish over here.

    I know this is an aside, but if it were up to me the WA warm water hatcheries would all be closed and I'd make sure every lake with bass/walleye/sunfish on the West coast was "rehabilitated." Sure I enjoy fishing for big smallies, but I wouldn't miss them.

    It makes me sad to think the location where some suspect the Cutthroat first appeared (confluence of the Snake and Columbia) is used for Bass tournaments.

    Ugh.
     
  18. sharpshooter223

    sharpshooter223 Member

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    well then i would call you a fly fishing purist/ almost extremist. not every lake with warm water species had been a lake with trout. and if the lake is man made then who cares what the hell is in there. i enjoy fishing for trout but i like variety in species and i dont mean different types of trout, i mean different types of fish.
     
  19. Steve Buckner

    Steve Buckner Mother Nature's Son

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    Not so fast on the trigger sharp...
    Some lakes are closed systems - (*systems that do not allow fish to leave) and while one may or may not approve of someone stalking trout in them, they are a completely different situation than what we're discussing in regards to the Snake river. Introducing non-native species (bass, bluegill, spiny rays) into the waters (Snake, Columbia, etc.) of migratory fish puts a natural system out of balance and may wreck it entirely. Not only are the dams wreaking havoc, the steelhead/salmon fry/smolts are preyed upon by non-natural numbers (Pikeminnows) of other predators and/or non-native warm water species. Read up on invasive species, you'll learn a ton!

    It's a function of evolution. Over the eons, the species native to these waters have "learned" to cohabitate with other species native to this geographic zone. And likewise, may not be able to defend themselves against diseases or predation brought on by the non-native species. Not to sound condescending, but you should pick up and read a biology/zoology book sometime.

    I think the gist of this thread is that the alternative energy source is staring us in the face - it's simply to just use less. We don't really need those dams. We may need to make some sacrifices, but reducing our need by either changing our lifestyles and/or using more efficient devices isn't really asking that much is it? Especially to save those precious wild fish that used to swim in these waters? I mean when it comes down to it, wouldn't you really rather catch a steelhead than a crappie?...
     
  20. sharpshooter223

    sharpshooter223 Member

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    i understand ecology just fine. the point is warm water species are just as desired as a sportfish as the native species of washington. keeping warmwater fish in man made lakes isnt going to hurt the trout any unless some beaner transports them to other places and overloads a different lake. but with as popular of fisheries as the bass on the columbia and snake are, do you really think they are ever going to go away?
     

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