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

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.”







  1. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    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. jr_ranger Avatar

    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. Slow Elk Poacher Avatar
    Slow Elk Poacher

    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. Alan Avatar

    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.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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