Salmon Problems Date Back More Than 50 Years

Salmon Problems Date Back More Than 50 Years

Not just due to cattle ranchers

By: Norma Bennett Woolf  Date: 01/13/2012 Category: | Wildlife Journal |

Environmental groups blame cattle ranchers in the Pacific Northwest for the decline in salmon runs and campaign for restrictions that will keep livestock away from streams. But the conflicts between salmon and people in the area go back more than 50 years to a post-war era when hydroelectric dams were planned and constructed to supply water and power to a growing population; indeed, the present condition of salmon runs in the region may be traced to these early decisions that benefited the entire region, not to the presence of cattle on surrounding range.

The early battle is set in the following item in BPA Currents, a publication of Bonneville Power Administration, in June 1947.


Dams versus fish

The Columbia Basin Inter-agency Committee held a two-day hearing on the subject of dams versus fish in the Columbia River Basin area at Walla Walla on June 25 and 26 to discuss the Department of Interior's proposal that upstream dams be constructed before additional structures were placed in the downstream areas in order to allow a 10-year program of study and analysis of the fishing interests. Representatives from many interested groups, including various state agencies, public bodies, (and) power, navigation, fish, wildlife, commerce, and agriculture groups were present and submitted statements.

The Columbia Basin Inter-agency Committee, which is comprised of top representatives in the region from the War, Interior, Commerce, and Agriculture Departments and the Federal Power Commission, is to review the proposal of the Department of the Interior and make a recommendation regarding it. The recommendation will be submitted to the Federal Inter-agency River Basin Committee at Washington.

The hearing was opened with a statement regarding the position of the Department of the Interior which was presented by the Executive Director of the Pacific Northwest Coordination Committee. The statement indicated that the general conclusions of the Department could be summarized as follows:

"At the outset, it acknowledges that the decision must be made by the Congress, with thoughtful attention to the sentiment of the people of the region. The Department agrees that interests of the Columbia River fisheries should not be allowed indefinitely to retard full development of the other resources of the river. It concludes, moreover, that the overall benefits to the Pacific Northwest from a thorough-going development of the Snake and the Columbia are such that the present salmon run must, if necessary, be sacrificed.

"This means to the Department that the Government's efforts should be directed toward ameliorating the impact of an ultimate, and inevitably full, development of the river's resources upon the immediately injured interests and not toward a vain attempt to hold still the hands of the clock."

Thus it can be seen that the Department's position with regard to construction of additional dams is that the power requirements of the Pacific Northwest call for new sources of energy during the coming years and that such sources must be forthcoming. Construction of McNary and four dams on the Lower Snake River which are now authorized are needed to meet these demands. If other structures can be built further upstream in time to meet these schedules, the Bonneville Power Administration can adjust its program of constructing transmission lines to take power from these substituted facilities.


About The Author

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Norma Bennett Woolf -

Editor and Writer for the National Animal Interest Alliance.

All Authors Of This Article: | Norma Bennett Woolf |
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