These two then went into a segue essentially calling anyone who supports lower Snake River dam removal as crazy and then went into a story about that Zimmerman guy who shot and killed Trayvon Martin, whom they noted was crazy. Apparently, Zimmerman sees his 15 minutes of infamy running out had to get a little more slimelight with a tweet recently. Apparently, these two morning disc jockeys see you as crazy people in the same light as George Zimmerman. Then again this was an FM station and FM stations typically are not the venue for salient information on serious topics. If you want entertainment news or the top 40 songs in pop, rock or country, it is great. Just don't expect much intelligent banter on actual serious news subjects. Was that too broad a brush? Yes, it was too broad a brush and I retract my statement, it was kind of like dismissing the 70,000 people who signed a petition in August to remove those four lower Snake River dams as happened this morning on a Lewiston radio station.
When I was an award-winning journalist in the state of Idaho, it was simply because I always kept an open-mind about things and worked hard to represent all sides. You could say that I have perhaps closed that once open mind on the issue of Snake River salmon recovery. Not entirely true, but the evidence continues to mount against the dams and when you spend something like $15-$16 billion on salmon recovery and you are no better off today than you were 36 years ago when you started spending that money, if you are determined to achieve your goal of salmon recovery then nothing can be off the table, off limits, when you've already wasted $15-$16 billion. So, yes, if magically tomorrow all of the works that money went into somehow began to pay off with wild salmon and steelhead recovery in the Snake River Basin, I'd stop advocating for the removal of your lower Snake River dams. You and I know that, as we sit today, we won't have recovery in eight years, which is the time frame that recovery can be achieved in.
But you and I know that 36 years, $15-$16 billion spent by just the Bonneville Power Administration is abject failure in the recovery of wild salmon and steelhead in the Snake River Basin. Now, we have to either decide that wild salmon and steelhead are not important and let them go the way of the dodo bird or we need to do something that 85 percent of the fisheries biologists in the Pacific Northwest say is a sure way of restoring our wild salmon and steelhead runs in the Snake River Basin.
Salmon Nation, it is perfectly legitimate for someone to hold the belief that wild salmon and wild steelhead are not more important than those deadbeat dams. It is, this is America and we are all entitled to being wrong. We are all entitled to our opinions, however, factually devoid our decision-making paradigm was at the time we came to whatever opinion we can't support with facts. That is the beauty and challenge of being an American and I fully support that.
I can support with facts that what we are doing for wild salmon and steelhead recovery is first and foremost not recovering wild salmon and steelhead in the Snake River Basin and is reckless. So to the unwashed who might still be blessed with an open mind I will now go about the litany of things we do in the name only of salmon restoration that really should be a cause of alarm if you have any humanity in you. Thus begins the litany.
1. The dams are a major detriment to wild salmon and steelhead survival in the Snake River Basin
Before the dams, smolt to adult return rates were adequate to not require 13 populations of wild salmon and steelhead to be listed on the endangered species list. Now, I know most of the dams came before the Endangered Species Act, but let's imagine they came after, and the condition before wouldn't require listing. In fact, when there were three mainstem dams downstream of the Snake on the Columbia River and one lower Snake River dam, we also had good enough smolt to adult return rates to thwart listing. We even had good enough SARs with the addition of two lower Snake River dams to have not had them listed on the Endangered Species List. But with there now being four on the Columbia downstream of the confluence with the Snake and four in the lower Snake River, we have SARs that are typically less than half of what they need to be to get off the list and that is only when we include the hatchery fish runs, which account for at least 80 percent of the runs. Coincidentally, and coincidence is as hard to believe in as these vast conspiracies people tend to believe today, the fish runs in front of those dams do have smolt to adult return rates that would constitute recovery. Is that a coincidence or is that because those four dams really do adversely affect our salmon runs? It doesn't take a smart person to make the leap that smart people have already made in regards to those dams being a major detriment to wild salmon and steelhead recovering.
2. Spill is better but not enough and now the action agencies want to reduce spill
You can say we've improved our mitigation efforts for these dams, but nothing has created a recovery situation. We are treading water at best. Environmental and conservation group fought for and won court-ordered spill. That coupled with improved ocean conditions still did not create a smolt to adult return rate that constituted recovery. Even when we engineer our altered riverine environment to run more like a river, it still doesn't get us to recovery.
3. The dams energy output is replaceable and no longer constitutes a viable argument
You can choose to disagree with me on this, but wind power in the Pacific Northwest is now triple the capacity of those four dams and those four dams only operate at or near capacity when the grid is full anyway from spring runoff. They are operating at a greatly reduced rate (about a third of capacity) and are replaceable and could be replaced immediately without any ill-effect to the grid or your power bill. Don't take my word for it, do your own research and you can look at these other sources while you conduct your own independent research. Go here, here, and here for some sources on this subject. I encourage you to do your own independent research. I encourage you to refute this. I encourage you to always maintain an open mind and question everyone, including me. You won't get that deal from a lot of people in this world. I ask you to look into it.
4. River transport supported by the dams is in immense decline and held together by taxpayer subsidy
I won't beat the drum too much here, but do your own research, you will see a decline of 70 to almost 90 percent in the past 15 years. And now we want to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to refurbish the dams and dredge out all the sediment backed up behind the dams. For what purpose? To ensure extirpation of the wild salmon and steelhead of the Snake River Basin? I'm sure no one would frame the argument in those terms, but that is what these actions will do. The Corps of Engineers wants to dredge the lower Snake until 2074 and the powers that be want to do two more serious dam turbine and other maintenance projects over the next 100 years that will cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, in fact the actual number is in the billions and when you factor in inflation that we will undoubtedly experience over the next century no one really can put a dollar sign on it, and my sound advice is whatever the Corps says it will be is a fairy tale that might be better served by multiplying their number by a factor of four or five or even 10. But please do your own research on this. Maintain an open mind and if you disagree with me after you have done so, go with God. I am at peace with you, even though we disagree.
5. We kill many different animals in the name of salmon restoration
We are currently involved in a slaughter of 10,000 cormorants on an island the Corps of Engineers augmented with dredge materials that made the island attractive to colonies of birds who happen to like to eat small fish that are readily available in the Columbia River estuary where this Corps of Engineers engineered island is located. We attracted the birds and now we are more than happy to shoot them and oil the eggs in their nests in the name of salmon recovery. We harass and kill sea lions at Bonneville Dam's fish ladder. I just saw a photo of a humpback whale near the bridge over the Columbia near Astoria, Ore. I seriously wonder when we are going to give the OK to kill humpback whales or any other whale that finds itself in the lower Columbia River. Who knows, it might be eating salmon smolts. And if it is, that's a death sentence for almost all creatures other than us. People can kill salmon and be held harmless, but other animals who have eaten these things for eons are going to be killed by us in the name, and in name only, of salmon restoration. Don't get me started on the bounty program we have in place to kill northern pikeminnow, a native species, because they eat little salmon on their way to the sea. Please do your own research and come to your own conclusions, but I have concluded that it is counter-intuitive to arbitrarily kill other species because they are eating salmon when you want to restore wild salmon and steelhead because they are vital to maintaining biodiversity. And if you look at the Endangered Species Act you will note that we have that act so that our actions don't extirpate or make go extinct other species because we recognize their ecological importance to our environment.
I don't think it is accurate to describe a person who seeks the restoration of any wild animal as crazy. Especially in light of the salmon issue where one could describe keeping expensive dams in place long passed their usefulness while killing off any creature we identify as a salmon-eater is perhaps loco. Then again, I remain open-minded, show me recovery with the $15-$16 billion you've spent and I'll stop advocating for the dams to come down. I will continue to point out the unethical and hypocritical nature of killing other creatures that eat salmon whether or not you can show me recovery in eight years, because that's just evil when you put in place bureaucratic killing systems for species identified as eating salmon. It also hasn't worked in terms of salmon recovery and your own scientists told you those fish they do eat would have died anyway from some other predator. Again, though, do your own research. There is nothing I want more out of this life than to continue to learn and be a better person on the day I died than I was the day I was born or any day in between. So please, research this stuff, come back here and tweak my argument, refute my argument, beat my argument. I will thank you for it, if you can do any of those things.
But don't be dismissive, it's unbecoming in any human being, especially those in the media who should maintain an open mind at all times, lest they let the biggest story of their lifetime slip passed them. It's not only that, you should cover it because there might be serious flaws on every side of every issue and you need to be there to report on that. Then again, I have a master's degree in journalism and a successful, award-winning career in it and perhaps that isn't the case for those who were so dismissive of you this morning Salmon Nation.
So, if you are crazy enough, you ought go to www.freethesnake.com and register and participate in the flotilla this Saturday.