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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
SO often it seems like everyone in Idaho would die for thier dams, which is not the case.

FYI - this appeared in the October 29 edition of the Idaho Falls Post-Register.

A warning for irrigators
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Recently, this page questioned the timing of environmental organizations contemplating lawsuits to take water from the upper Snake River's drought-stricken farms to help salmon and steelhead migrate to the Pacific.

Fortunately, those groups have put their suits on hold and are negotiating with Idaho irrigators under the auspices of Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho.

But irrigators got a warning of sorts themselves. Recently, 118 members of Congress signed a letter to President Bush calling for a salmon-recovery program that includes removal of the lower Snake River dams along with other habitat- and dam-modification measures.

More than that, the letter raised the bar by asking for "harvestable populations" of the salmon - substantially above the standards of the Endangered Species Act.

Yes, that's only a quarter of the membership of the U.S. House of Representatives. But it sends the first congressional signal that salmon recovery has a national constituency. Surveys show the American public decidedly favors restoring endangered species, and that will continue to register with Congress.

The Idaho Water Users Association isn't buying it. The association confidently says it feels entirely insulated from such a suggestion. After all, it has Sen. Larry Craig's word that Congress "will never consider Snake River dam removal."

That view is shared by Idaho's congressional delegation as well as by a White House that has proven to be no friend of salmon.

But what can't be ignored is the reality that the recovery plan - first adopted by Bill Clinton and then embraced by George W. Bush - is not working. A federal judge has ruled the current salmon recovery illegal because it doesn't meet the requirements of the Endangered Species Act. The Bush administration has been ordered to rewrite the plan by June. It will be hard put legally to avoid realistic consideration of dam removal.

The economic case for maintaining the dams - and thereby preserving navigation to the Port of Idaho at Lewiston - is weak. Alternate truck and railway transportation from north central Idaho to the Pacific competes with barge traffic profitably.

The dams contribute about 5 percent of the Northwest's electrical supply - but not when it's most needed. Most of the power comes from high flows during the spring.

The question for eastern Idaho irrigators is why they defend the lower Snake River dams. Salmon recovery depends on a strong current in the lower Snake to move young fish to the Pacific. There are two ways to accomplish that. The best, according to fish biologists across the nation, is to remove the dams. The alternative is to send more water downriver - and one source would be the upper Snake River. Unquestionably, any case for taking upper Snake River water for salmon recovery is weaker - if not rendered moot - if the dams are removed.

No one, especially this newspaper, is hopping aboard any policy that will rob upper Snake farmers of water, especially in the current drought. But the region needs pragmatic leadership that can objectively determine how best to protect eastern Idaho water. The Idaho Water Users Association needs to pull its head out of the sand before Congress imposes a clumsy solution.

J. Robb Brady
 

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Alot more of this attitude and maybe, just maybe, I'll see it in my lifetime
 

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Cosmo,this is good news for salmon. I beleave those 4 dams = 45K acers of irrigation. The pumps can be lowered to a free flowing stream level in about one year. Now prepare for some real afterburner style flaming,alota folks on this site don't share our vision.

[ 10-30-2003, 06:07 PM: Message edited by: freespool ]
 

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WRO,

Do ever get the feeling you are morphing into your worst nightmare? We've got you <grin>ing...what's next...quotes...Argh!!!

Brion
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
too much ....and here's a few more thoughts from the east side......

Congressman Butch Otter's support for the dams on the lower Snake River suggests he cares more about the interests of eastern Washington than the salmon-dependent communities in Idaho, writes Tom Stuart.
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Idaho's salmon vs. Washington's dams

In the past three years, some Northwest salmon species have rebounded. Columbia River fall Chinook (not endangered) are thriving in a free-flowing stretch of the Columbia. The situation is improved for Idaho's spring and summer Chinook, too, although wild returns are still only one-fifth of those seen in the 1960s.

The situation for some species is still grim. Only three sockeye salmon returned to Idaho's Redfish Lake this year.

Yet Congressman Butch Otter and a chorus of anti-salmon extremists tell us nothing else should be done for Idaho's wild salmon. They level charges of extremism at those who seek to recover Idaho's most economically important fish. They appear content to watch Idaho's salmon and steelhead gradually disappear.

But by writing off salmon, Otter and others are writing off a sport fishing industry that brings $3 billion annually to the Northwest. They are writing off economic recovery for Idaho towns such as Riggins, Salmon, Challis, Stanley and Orofino, where recovered salmon runs would provide much-needed economic benefits.

Idaho, which produces more than 50 percent of all spring/summer Chinook in the entire Columbia Basin, gets only a tiny portion of its fish back. Except for a few limited, target fisheries near hatcheries, salmon fishing in Idaho, once occurring along thousands of miles of rivers, has been prohibited since 1978.

The problem for Idaho's salmon is that too many perish en route to the sea. Baby Idaho salmon, depending on flows to get to the Pacific, face two bad options - either a slow, dangerous trip through warm, slackwater reservoirs behind four low-value dams in Washington state, or an unhealthy ride in a barge or truck, where disease can spread like chicken pox in an elementary school.

A few weeks ago, a "Salmon Celebration" in Stanley commemorated the return of wild spring/summer Chinook to the Sawtooths. In the past couple of years, these returns just barely reached the 2 percent level required to stop further population declines. Meanwhile, Chinook from Oregon and Washington rivers returned at 8 percent to 10 percent rates. Is Otter insisting that Idaho accept only the crumbs of salmon recovery?

Although four low-value dams in Washington remain, federal salmon plans require that flows in the Snake River be improved. Despite their location outside Idaho, Otter and others lobbied hard to protect those dams. The feds went along on the condition that additional Idaho water be provided to improve flows. Now, these anti-salmon extremists want it both ways, supporting neither dam removal nor flow improvements.

Real jobs in places such as Kooskia, Salmon and Challis hang in the balance. Yet with no apparent concern for salmon-related jobs, Otter and others seem to say, "To hell with Idahoans who depend on salmon. To hell with Idaho getting a fair share of the regional salmon economy. We don't care about that."

Until the four low-value dams in Washington are removed, Idaho's salmon need stronger flows to get safely to the ocean. Goals for better water management in the Snake should include creation of a voluntary market allowing farmers to lease more water to help salmon. That market should let individual farmers enter into multiyear contracts, and pay them enough to make it profitable, as an important tool in the farmer's financial toolbox.

Such a system would help Idaho farmers - and farming towns. Unlike Otter's doomsday rhetoric, it would help salmon, too.

Who's the real extremist in the salmon debate? Congressman Otter - by ignoring the financial needs of family farmers, fishing jobs in Riggins, Salmon and Challis, and doing nothing to stop the loss of one of Idaho's great resources - earns the title this time.

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Stuart lives in Boise, owns a Stanley business and serves on the board of directors of Idaho Rivers United. You can write to him at PO Box 633, Boise, ID 83701.
 

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Thanks for sharing, Cosmo!

In my opinion, some people don't read enough! :grin:
 

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I live in Kuna,Idaho and have enjoyed some awesome steelhead fishing the last 3 years in the Clearwater River and also in the Salmon River at Riggins. The exact causes for this boom is not totally understood, but I believe a lot of factors all were good during the same period of time. I'm on my way up again this Sunday nite after work to get into the steelhead that have finally arrived. I have witnessed the amount of financial benefit there is to a healthy fishery. Jet boats are selling like hotcakes now and Riggins has been enjoying great business the last 3 years. I personally believe the benefits of a healthy river system would be more beneficial to the economies throughout the hundreds of miles of rivers than the little bit of farming and transportation the dams provide. They need to look at the bigger picture. That's my opinion. Keep the fish coming! :rolleyes:
 
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Take a look at the outflows 4, 5 and 6 years ago and you'll probably see that the dams were nothing more than a riffle in the river system during the downstream migration of salmon and steelhead. The dams were wide open to relieve the unbelievable flows. The lakes didn't warm up, the nitrogen levels were low, as the volume of water exceded the turbidity. What I'm saying is that those years of flooding and near flooding have given us a prime example of what it would be like without the dams. At least as far as migration of fish goes.
I agree with previous posts that the pumps could be relocated to the "modified" water levels. And I have a difficult time believing that in this day and age, that our Government would disreguard the farmers impacted by any legislation. In fact they'd probably make out like bandits. So, what the heck? I'm not sure I'm ready to spend a gozillian more $$$ on electricity, but I'm sure that we're in for some serious expenses, with the "Man Made" solutions and the beurocracy that goes with them...
As I understand it, the modifications that were proposed for the Snake River dams, is to breach the "Land fill" half of the dams and leave the concrete locks and spillway's. I could be wrong, but this approch seams reversable. If it is, I would think that a study of ONE dam would probably be the right approach. They have enough data on the resevoir levels, temperatures, nitogen levels, speed of down stream migrations and just about every other thing a study would require, for at least the last 10 years...It wouldn't take long for an INDEPENDANT research group, WSU, UW, OSU...or both, to figure out if it was benificial to the fish.
I kayak, so I'd like to see some rapids appear on the lower snake, I'm sure some commerce could erupt as a result, too.
I'm not looking for a fight, but I think some of my ideas could be approached with success.

45/70
 

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45/70,if you take out one dam you might as well take out the rest. Upriver boat traffic would be halted with one dam gone. And sense these dams are only there to facilitate tug and barge movement, removing one is like removing them all.
 

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If you ask most Idaho fishermen, the upper Snake River Basin farmer and water users, and increasing numbers of business men and women, those dams have got to go. I know I'm gonna get flamed by Dampainter and the other pro-dam guys. All I have to say is show me proof the dams are GOOD for our salmon and steelhead and I'll shut up. Till then I'm going to keep working to get them removed.

Tom Stuart is a friend of mine. He has done a ton of research on the subject, and I would wager knows more than 98% of us on this board. We might do well to read some of the same research papers he has.
 
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Freespool,
I realize this. And if they hadn't removed the tracks from the rail beds down the snake, it would have been a no brainer. Things being what they are, you either have fish...or you have bulk transportation...it's just a matter of which we want to spend Billions of dollars on.
We have a local hatchery that's been dry for 6 years. Used to put out Skamania Steelhead, Spring and fall Chinook in abundance. Now we have limited seasons on the same beach we used to fish, almost, year around. Ask me and I'd be happy if they just used their heads and maximize the resorces that are already here.
The other thing of interest, is that if the floods of 96,97 & 98 were responsible for the successfull runs here lately, they why can't we duplicate this with the dams in place. There seems to be more interest in fighting for complete removal, or nothing...I'm no rocket scientist but even I can see that there's got to be a way. Barging fish around dams isn't it.
Anyone here got a better Idea?

45/70
 

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45/70,
The railbeds have not been removed. There are still rail lines from Lewiston to Portland. In reality the grain trains and trucks need to go only as far as the Tri-Cities.

I do not see anyone asking for the removal of all the Columbia Dams. They do provide a ton of power (versus the 5% total PNW power that the 4 lower Snake Dams provide), as well as navigation.

As for re-creating the floods with the dams in place, the only way to do that is to completely de-water the upper Snake reservoirs (which are almost empty now. You do that and you'll have no potatoes, alfalfa, corn or sugar beets from Boise east. Talk about an economic disaster...as well as drying up the Snake during the months of July and August.

I realize they are trying to "augment" flows on the lower Snake during some of the peak migration times, by dumoing water from Dworshak. That water helps but it isn't enough. Free flowing rivers are the answer.

It seems that everyone is going to have to compromise, and removing the Lower 4 Snake Dams makes the most sense, and would have the biggest benefit for the Columbia salmon and steelie runs.
 

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One of the more interesting facts about the 4 lower Snake River dams is the fact they operate on a deficit basis. So the feds augment these 4 dams,otherwise they would not exist in the first place. So on one hand we have the federal government spending millions of dollars trying to save endangered salmon stocks. And that same government spending millions of dollars putting obstacles in there way.At some point something is going to have to give here. Man is far more abaptable species than the salmon,we can make this work for the betterment of all.
 
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The tracks you're talking about must be on the South side of the river. They recently took out the rails on the North side, and tried to open it up as a mountain bike trail. I hunt on the North side, and wasn't aware of tracks on the other side.
I like everything I'm hearing here on this subject. I was fully aware that the Snake dams run in the Red. I'm also fully aware that the Government gets it's money from ME! We're paying the price at least, Three times. IRS, State, then again to the state for Licenses...Kind of reminds me of forest access.

It's really great to hear from like minded individuals.

45/70
 

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i read in STS that in order for idaho power to renew licences on the snake dams they have to get fish going back over them by the courts!

i hope sometime in my life ill be able to catch steelhead and salmon in the mid-uppper snake again!!

[ 11-03-2003, 09:18 AM: Message edited by: BonkBonkBonk ]
 

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Bonk,
How ya been? You know even if they put a fish ladder on Hell's Canyon Dam (Oxbow and Brownlee have one already, as well as Swan Falls) it would be almost impossible for salmon to survive in the Snake. That river is so poluted, warm, and shallow that the smolt would die.

Too bad too. I have pictures of my Dad and Grandpa with big salmon they caught in the Payette. One picture of Grandpa with a chinook he caught below 8th St. Bridge in downtown Boise in the 1920's time frame. I feel it is too late for the Boise, Weiser, Payette, Bruneau, Malheur, Owyhee, Burnt, Powder and many smaller tribs. We need to focus on saving the rivers that still have a fish or two running up them.

45/70,

All we can do is keep trying...
 
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