If all goes well, some time around 2010, an enterprising journalist will
be able to write a story about salmon with the headline, "Stories of salmons
demise were greatly exaggerated."
We doubt well ever see the story.
Federal officials decided last week to delay a decision on breaching four
lower Snake River dams for at least eight years. Instead, they said, they will clean up
waterways, restore habitat, improve river flows and captive breeding.
It sounds oh so reasonable in this election yearexcept for one
thing. The measures the feds say they will try have been tried in the past and failed. The
futility of the measures is evident in our own backyard.
Captive breeding and barging have not returned significant runs of salmon
to the river of the same name.
Habitat protection has become ludicrous with few fish to protect.
Habitat improvement is laughable given that Idaho has supported
enterprises like Heclas Grouse Creek Mine, which may be forced to lower the levels
of leaking cyanide-laced ponds into the Salmon River to avoid a catastrophic release.
And higher river flows? Good luck convincing Idaho farmers this is a good
The feds decision is a death sentence.
Its time to commission artists to produce some oversized sculptures
of salmon. Brass, iron, steel or granite would be nice. Over the years, its likely
the sculptures will become the sole remaining trace of the magnificent creatures that once
crowded the rivers of the Northwest.
So much for President Clintons environmental legacy. Roadless areas
will be nice, but without the native salmon in the rivers that run through them, they will
be just empty space.