This is in response to the front-page Oct. 19 story “Stormwater pollution in Puget Sound streams kills coho.” Under the right conditions, 40 to 100 percent of female coho salmon die in the smaller streams they usually spawn in before they can even spawn. This is called “coho pre-spawn mortality.”
Untreated stormwater (which is most stormwater) from impervious surfaces “frequented” by vehicles, such as roads, is the culprit. The exact nature of the pollution is still being studied. What is known is that the volume of traffic is key. The more traffic, the more coho salmon die.
Look at the elephant in the room: development! If we in Vancouver and Clark County are serious about preventing the extinction of certain populations of coho, as in those of individual streams, we must be serious about protecting all streams and intermittent drainages from development impact. We are talking about saving salmon habitat for a species that is highly sensitive to any development impacts. There are no stream banks in this case.
At a minimum, stream buffers cannot be less than the mature height of a red alder tree (Alnus rubra), about 100 to 120 feet.