Spring chinook return at snail's pace to Columbia River

After the unexplained virtual disappearce of the salmon run in the Sacremento River after the best run in many years, the slow return of chinoock salmon into the Columbia has folks on edge.

Rocky Barker writes about it today. Idaho Statesman.

Update added April 11. Sharp Curb on Salmon Season. By FELICITY BARRINGER. New York Times.






  1. Layton Avatar

    another interesting article in the Statesman about salmon this AM.

    Seems that most (all but the Nez Perce) tribes have made a deal with the govt. to quit advocating removal of the damns in return for more $$ for hatcheries and the feds laying off them on the numbers of wild fish caught in their gill nets on years when more fish return.


  2. SmokyMtMan Avatar

    Those dams are never coming down, anyway. Not in a million years. They cost so much to build, they provide so much ‘free’ electricity, store water, and they regulate the rivers depth for barge trafficking….there is no existing political support at present.

    Nor has there ever been, I would think.

    So, if a tribe can get something from the government in return for dropping their insistence upon something that will never occur (the dams being removed), then more power to ’em.

  3. Chuck Avatar

    Having been born and raised in Astoria, Oregon. I can tell you there are alot of issues pertaining to the salmon. No the dams will never come down. Whats funny is they use to run tug & barges on the Columbia River before the dams were built.

  4. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    If you follow the court’s actions and its irritation at the Army Corps of Engineers and others’ failure to heed its orders, I think it is reasonable to think the 4 dams on the lower SnaKe River in Washington State might be breached.

  5. Linda Hunter Avatar

    Ralph I agree . . the four dams on the lower Snake don’t do much, except allow for river traffic through water regulation. . however, they have fish ladders. Unfortunately the engineers who designed fish ladders thought they should all be square, perhaps for ease of building. I have always wondered if fish ladders were made to emulate a real stream bed (much less money than taking out dams) if fish might be able to thrive better. No one ever said fish like to square dance. . and watching salmon go through the alternate routes there you can tell when the dams were built and the fish ladders put in they were an afterthought. With the technology we have today a natural streambed fish ladder could be built and when the fish weren’t running, you could rent it out to kayakers.

  6. Linda Hunter Avatar

    Also, I believe it is not the tribes who are getting the money. . it is money for improving the fish conditions . . this is in the Oregonian:

    Settlements reached Monday with four Northwest Indian tribes would commit federal agencies to spend $900 million over the next decade on improving conditions for endangered salmon, but leave intact hydroelectric dams in the Columbia River Basin that environmentalists say kill fish.

  7. SmokyMtMan Avatar

    Ralph, Linda,

    Very sorry, but you are both very wrong.

    This deal seems to be the expiration of any remaining possibility of the dams being breached.


    The reservoirs hold so much water, the area has electricity rates 25% below the national average, some 125,000,000 bushels of grain move down the Snake each year, etc.

    If the possibility of the dams being breached were so high as Linda says, why is this new deal guaranteeing the future existence of the dams?

    The reality is that these legal battles over the dams have been raging for almost 20 years. If the salmon were going to win, it would have occurred before now.


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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Ralph Maughan