Friday, December 25, 2009

Emails Released from Independent Review of BiOp

Emails released this week shed light on some of the comments the federal government received from an independent panel of scientists asked to review the updated version of the Columbia River BiOp. The plan relies heavily on improving tributary habitat and includes a provision to study dam removal in 10 years if salmon populations on the Snake continue to decline. Among the concerns raised by reviewers were that the plan was too vague about actions, that there is uncertainty around how much improving tributary habitat can actually increase abundance, and that hatchery effects were essentially unaddressed.

What is mind boggling is the amount of money being spent to keep archaic Snake River dams in place. While improving tributary habitat and tweaking passage facilities may help keep populations from extinction true recovery could be achieved with the removal of the four lower Snake dams. Those four dams represent a bygone era in American history, a time when daming every river was literally the goal and in doing so we inundated one of this country's greatest rivers. For a whole host of biological, cultural and economic reasons the Snake River dams should be removed. Time is ticking for Snake Salmon. With climate change looming the opportunity to recover a large portion of the former diversity and abundance is slipping away. As the ocean and riverine environment becomes more hostile to the salmon with a changing climate, the effects of the dams will only be magnified. By the time we are "studying" dam removal it might be too late.

See coverage of the emails in the Oregonian:

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