Think of the Columbia River’s wild salmon run as an inexhaustible Salmon Mine, says Seattle restaurateur and environmentalist Duke Moscrip. He’s written an open letter to President Trump asking for the White House to direct its federal agencies to stop stalling and restore the salmon runs.
It may be a tough sell at a time when the Trump administration seems intent on cutting back its support for public resources, from fish to National Parks.
Here’s a look at the battlefield.
The US Army Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Reclamation and the Bonneville Power Administration own and operate 11 massive dams on the Columbia, built over the past 80 years to generate power and provide irrigation water east of the Cascade Mountains. (Another 275 smaller dams on tributaries also provide power and irrigation.) The dams have made life (and sex!) difficult for salmon, especially, because adult salmon return from years at sea to spawn in the streams where they were born. The dams provide fish ladders to avoid blocking the fish by a solid wall of concrete, but even the best mitigation systems have had limited success. Meantime, juvenile salmon don’t take the ladders on their migration downstream; if they can’t use the dam’s spillway, they get sucked through the dam’s power-generating turbines.