Obama Repackages Bush Salmon Plan

Calls Dam Breaching a “Last Resort”

Chinook Salmon © Ken Cole
Chinook Salmon © Ken Cole

“The administration’s passing reference to dam breaching as a ‘contingency of last resort’ defers all necessary economic, infrastructure and other studies, making this ‘contingency’ an illusion,” said Samuel N. Penney, the chairman of the Nez Perce American Indian Tribe, which has traditionally fished the Columbia.

New Federal Plan for Fish-Dam Harmony
New York Times

Obama administration backs Columbia salmon and dam plan
Rocky Barker – Idaho Statesman


  1. Ryan Avatar

    Same old shit, different leader.. Its a god dammed shame. Those dams have neede to go for the last 20 years, and everyone knows it.

  2. Ken Cole Avatar

    I agree. Breach ’em. The benefits will be enormous and the costs will be few.

  3. jdubya Avatar

    Same old shit indeed. I am very disappointed with Obama and Lubchenko. This situation won’t change until Idaho asks to pull the dams down. Even though it is in Idaho’s self interest to do so, cold day in hell for it to happen. Eight months into the job, Obama = Bush for the environment in my estimation.

  4. Ryan Avatar

    It wont happen until the were 3 salmon away from extinction, then it will be too little, too late. Imagine what healthy watersheds, flush with nutrients every season would look like on the western slope of the mtns in Idaho, and up the malheur river drainiage. Out of all of the enviromental tradgedies that have happened in the pacific northewest, or in this country, this has to be one of the worst, on scale with the buffalo and passenger pigeon.

  5. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    I agree. I often wonder what it was like when there were salmon runs in virtually every river and stream wet of the divide.

  6. Ken Cole Avatar

    Even if the 4 Lower Snake dams are removed there will be no salmon on the Malheur River. The Hells Canyon dams would have to be removed as well for that to happen.

  7. Ryan Avatar

    I know Ken, a man can have dreams cant he?

  8. Ken Cole Avatar

    I dream of the same thing. I wish we had them all the way to Nevada in the Owyhee and Rock Creek like in the old days too. The Boise, Payette, and Weiser too.

    I’ve also been told that the Snake River near Swan Falls used to be a very important spawning ground for fall chinook. Now it’s nothing but a carp filled mess.

  9. Lynne Stone Avatar

    I am disappointed as well. As a kid growing up 40 miles from the Columbia River, I saw The Dalles and John Day dams being built. Mother Nature has a way of taking care of things, when man kind is bent on destroying her work. In this case, the salmon of Idaho.

  10. jdubya Avatar

    “It’s clear that dams provide good clean energy,” said Dr. Jane Lubchenco, the administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which oversaw the review of the Bush plan. “They allow integration of wind into the grid. It’s not clear what impact their removal would have on salmon, and we believe that removal of them is not necessary in the short term. We want to give these other actions a chance to work.”

    It’s not clear what impact their removal would have? Are you kidding? It’s clear to anyone who has objectively studied this issue. We have given “these other actions a chance to work” for frigging decades. As a fellow Oregon Stater, I am embarrassed for this level of stupidity to be on open display.

  11. Tom Page Avatar
    Tom Page

    How much of this is politically motivated by the 2012 election, with Gary Locke as Commerce Secretary and Patty Murray as an influential Democratic Senator? Are any of the WA congressional delegation in favor of considering dam breaching on equal footing as any other option?

    At least the Idaho steelie numbers are up this year…

  12. Ken Cole Avatar

    Here is what I understand about this issue. Cecil Andrus is the person the Democrats always refer to when it comes to this issue and he thinks it is a losing issue politically for them.

  13. Ken Cole Avatar

    Steelhead and sockeye have done fabulously well this year and last. I think it has something to do with the Judge’s order to spill more water during the spring migration.

    I see a couple of problems with this for each side of the issue.

    First, it leaves the impression that the dams can stay in and recovery can still occur but I think that is an erroneous belief. I think that in very poor water years or very poor ocean condition years it won’t be enough.

    Second, greater spill reduces the economic value of the dams. The dam proponents will have a weaker argument for keeping the dams in place.

    The dams are earthen dams. The concrete structures where the turbines are housed could still remain in place and possibly keep producing electricity. If there is no benefit for the fish then the earthen portion could be replaced but I think it would be unlikely for that to happen because it is so obvious that the dams, and the reservoirs they create, are the problem these fish have.

    Breach ’em.

  14. Brian Ertz Avatar

    Bring the dams down !

  15. jdubya Avatar

    There are many bad things about this decision, but I’ll point out one.

    When Obama ran for Prez he said science would rule, and he would make decisions based upon science. Now the wolf hunt has been beat to death here and I don’t want to repeat it, but the bottom line is the federal judge pronounced this was a political solution NOT based on science and thus revisiting the whole issue was high on his agenda.

    The same can be said for the salmon issue. The science says the dams should come down, plain and simple. If Obama followed the science, we would not have had the announcement we had yesterday. Instead political considerations came into play that allows the Obama administration to keep on keeping on using the old flawed Bush and Clinton plan.

    What both of these scenarios have in common is strong federal judges that are quite willing to kick the administration in the can. This allows the Obama administration to ignore doing their real duty of making the hard decisions, and instead allow the courts to make the decisions for them. It is a cop out. It is a cop out on both the “science rules” promise he made, and it is a cop out on making hard decisions.

    Obama is turning out to be just another Bush when it comes to the environment.

  16. Ryan Avatar

    “Obama is turning out to be just another Bush when it comes to the environment.”

    In the words of my favorite comedian Luis Black.

    “A republican stands up in congress and says ‘I GOT A REALLY BAD IDEA!!’ and the democrat stands up after him and says ‘AND I CAN MAKE IT SHITTIER!!’”

  17. JimT Avatar

    Where’s the Monkey Wrench Gang when you need them?

    Another attempt to appear to be doing something different (promises of “reviews”, and possibilities of dam breaching if warranted by studies), but ultimately, another punting job by the Obama folks, who appear to be more afraid of the hydro industry than the needs of the fish, obeying the ESA, etc. I am hoping this judge finally says ENOUGH! and invites the enviros to submit a plan he will put in place. He seems angry enough..and this has been going on since the Clinton years. Breach ‘Em!


Ken Cole is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He is the interim Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project.

We do not accept unsolicited “guest” authors or advertising.

Subscribe to get new posts right in your Inbox

Ken Cole