Salmon Advocates Appeal for Help
Idaho Mountain Express, February 5, 2009
Conservationists ask for legislation to remove lower Snake dams
Idaho salmon advocates are asking part-time Wood River Valley resident Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., to sponsor federal legislation authorizing the removal of four large dams on the lower Snake River in southeastern Washington.
The longtime U.S. senator and his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, maintain a part-time vacation home near Ketchum. Kerry spent a week in the valley during his unsuccessful run for the presidency in 2004.
This week, salmon advocates with Idaho Rivers United are delivering a video to Kerry that contains statements from eight local residents asking him to take the lead on the salmon restoration issue. The four dams highlighted by the video are the last impediments salmon and steelhead bound for Idaho must cross.
Calls for the dams' removal have floated about in Idaho during the past two decades as the highly-prized runs of anadromous fish have plummeted to record low numbers in the state's rivers. Chinook and sockeye salmon and steelhead trout that arrive in the Sawtooth Valley near Stanley must cross over those dams before they enter the dam-free Salmon River drainage.
"We're asking Senator Kerry to help bring our salmon back from the edge of extinction," Andy Munter, the owner of Ketchum-based Backwoods Mountain Sports, said in a prepared statement. "The health of our economy, our salmon populations and our quality of life depend on our ability to bring people together to take advantage of this opportunity. Senator Kerry is a leader who can make this happen."
The Sun Valley area is only 30 miles from the headwaters of the Salmon River, the conservationists point out.
Snake River sockeye, which spawn and die in Redfish Lake and several other bodies of water in the shadow of the Sawtooth Mountains northwest of Ketchum, were given federal Endangered Species Act protections in 1991. Snake River chinook were similarly listed under the ESA in 1992.
"We think there are ways in which legislation can be drawn so that we can preserve the salmon and take care of the people who are going to have a downstream effect from the removal of the dams," said former Blaine County Commissioner Len Harlig, who is also featured in the video.
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