Saving the wild salmon in the Columbia River Basin is an issue that does not get much press outside of the Pacific Northwest. However, the possible extinction of the Columbia River Salmon has far reaching effects. One of the more interesting issues (and representative of the greater environmental and animal advocate’s conflict) is that a main reason for the massive die off of salmon is the dams which supply “clean” energy to much of the northwest. According to William Dietrich, a noted Pacific Northwest naturalist and writer, the natural salmon population has been reduced by 98 percent. Much of this die off can be directly attributed to the normal operation of dams.
The dams located in the lower Snake River are a major culprit in the vastly reduced salmon population. These dams stop the salmon from going to the cool waters of Idaho, which in turn stops them from reproducing. The best way to ensure the survival of wild salmon populations is to breach the lower Snake River dams. Some people argue that breaching the four lower Snake River dams does not make any sense. The basis for their argument is that breeching the dams would result in the loss of farmlands, jobs and hydropower. Luckily, it does not have to be a choice between energy and salmon. Using solar panels and wind energy, more than enough electricity could be produced to cover the amount lost by the removal of the dams. The concern over loss of farmland is also misplaced. Since the dams have been built there has been no substantial economic growth in the industries that “need” dams. Therefore dependence on dams is more psychological than actual. For those that are legitimately negatively affected, targeted assistance can be made available. The survival of several species of salmon is at stake and some sacrifices will have to be made, however, it is possible to live in a world where clean energy, jobs, and wild salmon coexist. Further information can be found at www.williamdietrich.com, wildsalmon.org, Second Coming – March/April 2000 – Sierra Magazine – Sierra Club
Filed under: animal law, environmental ethics, environmental law Tagged: | animal advocacy, animal law, Columbia River, Columbia River Basin, environmental advocacy, environmental ethics, environmental law, environmentalism, hydropower, salmon, Snake River