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Commentaries and editorials

Fish Haven't Been Fighting
Structures for 60 Years

by Gordon Macdougall
Seattle Post-Intelligencer - June 9, 2005

Dennis Rohn (Letters, Sunday) claims that dead salmon "pollute otherwise clean waters." Dead fish don't "pollute"; to the contrary, they provide food for an enormous amount of other organisms, including our national symbol, the bald eagle. All the dead things that float in water contribute to its health as a central provider in a complex ecosystem.

Bob Mehr (also Letters, Sunday) makes the obviously incorrect statement that the last dam was built on the Columbia/Snake river system in the late 1940s. In fact, the Dalles Dam started service in 1957, Priest Rapids in 1959, Rocky Reach in 1961, Wanapum in 1963, Wells in 1967, John Day in 1968, Mica 1973, Libby in 1975.

(bluefish adds: On the Lower Snake river in Washington state, Ice Harbor was completed in 1961, Lower Monumental completed in 1969, Little Goose completed in 1970, and Lower Granite completed in 1975. See Center for Columbia River History)

So Mehr's big question (how did the salmon survive these dams for more than 60 years?) should be more accurately rephrased to ask: How did even a few salmon get through the gauntlet of more than 50 dams on the Columbia/Snake system for even 30 years? Will the species survive to see "over 60"?

Gordon Macdougall, Seattle
Fish Haven't Been Fighting Structures for 60 Years
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, June 9, 2005

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