Friday, July 27, 2007

Salmon win one


This picture just didn't seem to add up in the war between environmentalists and hydroelectric companies to save salmon from dams that impede their spawning.

In Oregon this week, Portland General Electric took the first step in destroying its 47-foot-high Marmot Dam to restore the free-flowing Sandy River east of Portland for salmon. Representatives of some 23 environmental, civic and government groups looked on and applauded when 4,300 pounds of explosives ripped off the top of the structure.

PGE is spending $17 million and donating 1,500 acres toward construction of a 9,000-acre recreational area in the river basin. When Marmot Dam and Little Sandy Dam are fully removed, the Sandy River will flow freely from Mt. Hood to the Columbia River.

This is good news for salmon populations that have struggled to survive the damage of the dam to their lives, and good news for a variety of groups battling for public opinion and in the courts to prevent salmon from becoming extinct.

It also is an illustration, albeit small in the total scheme of things, that electric utilities can work to save salmon by recognizing the changing nature of dams and power generation relative to the hugely vital economic and environmental role of wild salmon for Northwestern states.

Another fight remains focused on the lower Snake River dams that create torturous obstacles for salmon trying to make their way to and from the Pacific Ocean.

The decision to remove PGE's Marmot Dam is powerful testimony that salmon, indeed, can be just as persuasive as income from electricity.




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