Wednesday, March 20, 2002
In her "endangered sense" letter to the editor, Mary Wilson questioned where I got the notion that an overwhelming majority of mid Columbia residents supported removal of Condit dam. Well Mary, from all the hearings that have been held in our region regarding this issue over the years, that's where. Including the last, and perhaps most telling hearing held the other night in Hood River where local residents testified 3 to 1 in favor of dam removal. That ratio has been consistent from the beginning. At any rate, it is not really a popularity contest. The decision has been weighed by many parties from fisheries biologists and engineers to PacifiCorp who owns the dam. A consensus has been reached and an agreement signed: the antiquated dam should be removed.
As for your comment on salmon being the "only endangered species that can routinely be caught and eaten" -- this is a common error that belies just how far removed from wild nature many of us have become. Indeed, our sense is endangered! Hatchery salmon -- sea going Spam, they have been called -- and wild salmon are two entirely different creatures. It's poodles and wolves. Hatchery salmon are bred in hatcheries and spend much of their lives in a human controlled environment. They are genetically weak and thus very vulnerable to disease and environmental stress. Wild salmon spawn naturally in fresh, free flowing rivers and when caught, by sports fisherman, must be released. A Chinook salmon from one river may be quite different genetically from a Chinook of another river. This vast genetic diversity has allowed salmon to survive for two million years by helping them adapt to a specific local watershed or adjust to a changing one.
Indeed, a great many runs of wild salmon, are quite endangered! Removing Condit Dam will allow one run of wild salmon to be regenerated, a big step in the right direction.
At any rate, it would be a grave mistake to allow wild salmon runs to disappear and simply trust what now indeed "can be routinely caught and eaten."