Scientists Publish Argumentby Lynda V. Mapes
A trio of scientists at the National Marine Fisheries Service Science Center in Seattle published their argument against breaching dams on the Lower Snake River in the journal Science this week.
The same scientists first presented a version of their findings last November, when the fisheries service went public with a scientific paper examining troubled salmon runs on the Lower Snake River.
In that document, the scientists used a mathematical analysis to determine that even if the dams were breached, some species of Snake River salmon would still decline.
That finding was reiterated in the agency's draft salmon-recovery plan for the Columbia Basin released in July and in the article published this week
The article by Peter Kareiva, Michelle McClure and Michelle Marvier found that even if survival of juvenile salmon migrating in the Columbia River were somehow increased to 100 percent, some Snake River stocks would still decline toward extinction.
The federal government is using that argument to bolster its position that other approaches to saving salmon should be tried before breaching the four Lower Snake River dams.
The final recovery plan for Columbia Basin salmon is scheduled to be released by mid-December.
The Clinton administration has agreed to not consider dam removal for at least five years.
Dam-removal advocates have criticized the scientists' findings from the beginning.
They argue the scientists don't adequately account for fish weakened and stressed by barging and trauma as they pass through bypass systems at the dams.
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