The March 15 editorial “Fishing for solutions” is way off base when it says attempts to mitigate the impact of dams “have often proven to be ineffective or even counterproductive.” That statement, based on a 2002 report, ignores 14 years of incredible progress.
It’s true that billions have been spent by Northwest families and businesses, through their electric bills to install new passage technologies at the dams. The result? An average 97 percent survival rate for young salmon at the eight federal dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers. Dam operations have changed dramatically, with water “spilled” to move salmon downstream more swiftly. And a 2008 agreement between federal agencies, states and tribes is providing $1 billion to restore habitat.
These measures and more compose an effective federal salmon plan based on sound science and supported by the Obama administration. Proof that the plan is working is seen in high salmon returns including record and near-record returns in 2014 and 2015. In fact, the plan is striking the very balance that The Columbian calls for: combining sound science with effective measures, while preserving carbon-free hydropower and commerce. For their massive investments in salmon recovery, the people of the Northwest deserve no less.