There is finally movement to rid the Klamath River in northern California of its salmon-killing dams and probably those on the Snake River in Washington State which have greatly reduced salmon and steelhead runs upsteam in Idaho.

While the dams generate some hydropower and a bit of barge traffic to Lewiston, Idaho, the ruination of these fish runs cost far more than the benefits of the dams. I mean yes, Lewiston, Idaho is a seaport! But when you get your barge to Lewiston, where are you? (at the base of hundreds of miles of mountains with poor [two-lane] highways).

Story in the LA Times. Fate of Klamath River dams in play. Federal officials call for upgrades to four of them to help salmon get upriver. But it may be cheaper to take the barriers down. By Eric Bailey, Times Staff Writer

Background on the issue from Grist Magazine. “The River Dry. David James Duncan rows through a wheat field to save salmon — and we’ve got pictures.”

About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is past President of the Western Watersheds Project.

4 Responses to Is momentum building to rip out salmon and steelhead-killing dams?

  1. avatar JEFF E says:

    Lets hope so. Wasn’t a dam recently removed on the east coast in one of the New England states that has resulted in the first wild salmon run in like 70 or eighty years?

  2. avatar jr_ranger says:

    It’s great to hear that the government is finally realizing that dams aren’t a silver bullet. Maybe we can look forward to the decommissioning of Glen Canyon…

  3. avatar Slow Elk Poacher says:

    The only trepedations I have about this is that dams do supply clean energy to most of the northwest. The emissions that the northwest regions supplies from burning fossil fuels is a lot more minimal, and that is mostly due to the amount of dams that supply the energy to our state. All states in the region are growing, whcih means more energy is needed. So, basically what will happen is the dams will go, but coal plants will go up. Then we sacrifice dirty air for salmon.

    I think there needs to be a balance here. What will be the alternative resources we will use instead of dams to produce energy? Thats critical in my opinion.

  4. avatar Alan says:

    We are bigtime wasters of energy, regardless of where and how it’s produced. We regularly hear talk about new plants, upgrading old plants, nuclear vs. coal, etc. But there still is little mention in the mainstream media of “conservation.” Local and state governments could start by distributing compact fluorescent bulbs — two per household. The big un-talked-about thing, though, is growth/economic development. We cannot keep growing forever. It is killing us and our fish/wildlife heritage.


February 2007


‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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