Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A History of Misguided Dams on the Snake


Interesting Editorial in the Idaho Statesman which tracks the history of dam building on the Snake and Clearwater, the justifications for the projects, their failure to deliver the proposed benefits and the catastrophic environmental costs. Perhaps the most egregious dam project in the history of the Columbia system is Dworshak Dam on the North Fork Clearwater. The North Fork was once a stronghold for one of the finest races of steelhead in the world, the legendary B Runs of the Clearwater River. In 1972, the Army Corps of Engineers built the dam which now blocks all fish passage up the North Fork at river mile 2, extirpating the unique race of wild steelhead which called the North Fork home.

The Lower Snake River dams are a major roadblock to the recovery of wild salmonids in the Snake system. Outmigrating juveniles experience high mortality in each of the impounded lakes where they fall victim to native and invasive predatory fish. Furthermore, their migration to sea is slowed dramatically by the dams meaning their chance of survival upon entering the ocean is also reduced. Many of the rivers in the Snake basin have relatively good habitat which would otherwise support productive stocks of wild, anadromous salmonids including Spring Chinook, Sockeye, Coho, Fall Chinook and Steelhead.

See the editorial here:

http://www.idahostatesman.com/opinion/story/1056146.html

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