Follow Good Scienceby John McConnaughey
The Columbian, June 8, 2006
In his May 30 guest column, "Breaching Snake Dams Will Hurt Economy," Don Brunell challenges Judge Redden to "broaden his perspective" as he rules on the federal government's illegal salmon recovery plans for the Columbia Basin. But the judge's job is simply to determine the lawfulness of the plans, and the government has repeatedly failed to follow the law.
Brunell should instead challenge the government to stop dragging its feet and work hand-in-hand with regional stakeholders and elected officials to craft a legally-defensible, scientifically-credible, and fiscally-responsible plan that restores wild salmon and steelhead to healthy populations. The best science shows that removing the four dams on the lower Snake River would allow recovery of salmon populations. Other studies have shown that rails and highways can replace the transportation functions of the dams.
Of course, overharvesting leads to the demise of salmon populations before a dam is ever built, and harvest levels need to be reduced until escapement goals are met. But such recovery is unlikely in the Snake due to the configuration of the current dams.
Efforts to date have utterly failed us and our fish. It is time for our leaders to follow good science, good economics and get on with real recovery solutions.
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