Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Record Steelhead Returns over Bonneville

As of yesterday Summer Steelhead Counts over Bonneville dam were over 430,000 fish, already the third highest return in 70 years and on pace to potentially break the 2001 record of about 630,000 fish. While the vast majority of returning steelhead are of hatchery origin, over 130,000 unmarked fish have passed Bonnville making it one of the best years for wild returns in recent history. High returns are essential drivers of recovery, future productivitiy and diversity. Favorable ocean conditions the last two years are largely responsible for the record breaking return. High returns are always promising however it is important to put them in perspective. The current wild run is a fraction of the historic return and the conditions which are driving the high survival cannot possibly last. The only way to ensure more stable returns and long lasting recovery is to address the fundemental problems in the Columbia system, the dams and the huge level of hatchery production. The next few weeks are some of the most important in history for determining the future of the Snake River dams. If you haven't already, contact your Senators and Congressmen and tell the the Northwest wants the Snake Dams gone.

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