Friday, August 26, 2011

Telling Quote From Seattle Times Elwha Story

Re-reading Lynda Mapes' story from yesterday's Seattle Times on the Elwha Hatcheries one particular quote by tribal hatchery manager Larry Ward stands out. It reads,

"There is this whole philosophy of the Elwha being a living laboratory, when in reality, it is the home of the Elwha tribe. After waiting 100 years for the dams to come out, they are not willing to wait another 100 years for the fish to recover"

It begs this question though: after watching wild salmon populations dwindle for 100 years are we willing to squander the greatest recovery project of our generation over the desire to have harvest opportunities in the near term? In the absence of the hatchery it would likely take wild populations only a few generations to recover to levels that could sustain some level of harvest. Instead managers and the tribe appear willing to abandon the notion that wild fish, in a pristine watershed can support sustainable well managed fisheries.

No doubt the Lower Elwha Klallams, like other tribes in our region have long been given the short end of the stick when it comes to the management of their home river, but the Elwha belongs to us all and as such we all have a stake in it's future. One that is jeopardized by our societies blind faith in hatcheries and a connection between a healthy watershed and wild salmon that we seem to have forgotten long ago.

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