The only thing I want to get across today is that while some of these runs in recent years have been much better than some of the 1990s years they are nowhere near what they were historically and you should demand more. No salmon runs on the Columbia and Snake rivers since our dam craze began on those two rivers have even exceeded the 1883 Chinook salmon catch by fishermen. They caught 3 million Chinook salmon in 1883 in the river. The catch weighed more than 42 million pounds. Our greatest salmon run in recent years was in 2001, about 2.24 million salmon and steelhead returned to the Columbia/Snake that year. In comparison to historical abundance of 10-16 million the 2001 run was 14-22 percent the size of the average historical salmon run on the Columbia/Snake. Last year, was really similar to 2001 in that some 2.1 million fish swam up the Columbia/Snake for about the same percentage of historical abundance as 2001 generated.
Through Thursday about 1.78 million salmon and steelhead have swam up the Columbia/Snake this year. While the year isn't done, right now we are at 11-18 percent compared to the salmon runs prior to 1850 and barely more than half of the 1883 Chinook catch and the number from this year counts Chinook, steelhead, coho, sockeye, chum and pink salmon.
In 1995, about 504,000 fish swam up the Columbia/Snake to spawn, which compared to historical abundance averages was 3-5 percent the size of what used to be. Now throw in the typical half billion dollar price tag each year spent on "salmon recovery" and you ought to feel cheated and robbed. Just because you are allowed to stand on a stream bank with a rod in your hand for some undetermined but always short amount of time before the managers close it down, doesn't mean there has been recovery. As recently as 2007, less than 1 million salmon and steelhead came back to the Columbia/Snake.
Demand better. Until you do, nothing will change...well, one day you will wake up and there won't be anymore wild salmon if you don't demand better. The only action we can take that would have 100 percent probability of recovery of the Snake River salmon stocks is removing the lower four Snake River dams. More than 85 percent (86.4 percent) of the Western Division of the American Fisheries Society considers the four lower Snake River Dams a threat to the continued existence of salmon, steelhead, lamprey and sturgeon. Read about it here or below.
"The Western Division of American Fisheries Society (WDAFS) announced that it has passed a
resolution acknowledging that based on the best available scientific information, the four lower Snake River dams
and reservoirs present a significant threat to the continued existence of remaining wild fish populations. It goes on
to say that if society wishes to save and restore these endangered species, “then a significant portion of the lower
Snake River must be returned to a free-flowing condition by breaching the four lower Snake River dams[.]” The
resolution is a revision of one adopted in 1999, and passed with 86.4% approval of the independent group of scientists
throughout the Western US."
How do federal dams get breached? An act of Congress and a president willing to sign the legislation. Start making calls.