In 2009, the Columbia Basin Bulletin produced the 77-page e-book “SALMON AND HYDRO: An Account of Litigation over Federal Columbia River Power System Biological Opinions for Salmon and Steelhead, 1991-2009.” We are making the book available to CBB members.
By David Welch
Mr. Hawley misconstrues my shock—I am shocked because biologists monitoring survival thought it unimportant to ask why salmon survival reported elsewhere was no better than Snake River populations. Decades ago someone should have asked what was wrong with the accumulating data (and fixed it) or asked why current Columbia Basin policy laser-focused on the dams can really restore salmon populations if survival is the same elsewhere. The answer reported in our paper is that the data really are consistent with a coastwide decline but that the Columbia also has a big problem with what was thought to be the gold standard in survival monitoring—PIT tag data. This too is shocking.
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There is a lot of talk now about finding a new way to coordinate and improve Columbia Basin salmon recovery. A diverse group of river users, utilities and environmentalists is calling on Northwest governors to lead the way in finding collaborative solutions to recover Columbia/Snake River Basin salmon and steelhead populations listed under the federal Endangered Species Act.
Coho salmon are returning to northeast Oregon’s Lostine River in record numbers almost five decades after they disappeared from the same basin. Once again the coho are supporting tribal harvest and a new Oregon recreational fishery.
Only about 25 percent of salmon and steelhead smolts produced in the Yakima River basin make it to McNary Dam on the Columbia River. Spring chinook do better than that, but poor survival of juvenile fall and summer chinook drag that number down.
The wildfires that ripped through Oregon and Washington in September, burning over one million acres, inflicted serious damage and destruction to fish and wildlife mitigation resources, notably Oregon hatcheries.
The U.S. Interior Department last week released a report on the “Safeguarding the West from Invasive Species initiative,” an effort aimed at enhancing actions by federal, state and tribal governments to prevent the spread of invasive zebra and quagga mussels to uninfested Western waters, such as those in the Columbia River Basin.