Conflicts: People, Fish and Water Use [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Conflicts: People, Fish and Water Use

06-09-2004, 05:25 PM
For those interested in the plight of the Thompson River (among others) here is an enlightening report. pdf

It is a very recent scientific paper that looks at two BC streams that have major water use issues, one coastal and one interior. I am sure that the issues and arguements will apply to a wide variety of such streams.

The Nicola watershed is the primary spawning system for the Thompson steelhead and this report clearly outlines its role and the problems it faces. It is large download - but it is worth it.

As well, there will be a meeting for anyone interested in the Thompson River Recovery Plan that will be held in Spence's Bridge on Sept 18, 2004. As all user groups will be there as well as the agencies from the two levels of government - it should prove to be interesting.

06-09-2004, 10:17 PM
My encouragement and prayers go out to all those fighting for the Thompson and other rivers. South of the border, people are fighting to keep the Bonneville Power Administration from reneging on commitments to provide sufficient flows for fish.

We're with you Thompson people in spirit.


06-12-2004, 07:37 PM
Kush and Bill: I've posted a note about the BPA public meeting over on the General Board, but here's a letter from Brady Bennon at Save Our Wild Salmon about the BPA spill reductions and what we can do to protest. It's lengthy, but here goes.

* * *

Do you have time to attend a hearing on Monday (1-4 p.m.)? That would be
the best way to get the word out about how bad cutting spill is going to be
for salmon and steelhead.

Here are the details:

Monday (June 14) at 1 p.m.
Embassy Suites near the Portland Airport (7900 N.E. 82nd

Also, writing a letter to the editor of the Oregonian would be super
beneficial, since that's a great way to make it well known to the public how
bad the proposal is. Below is an email alert I sent out about doing a
letter to the editor.

Finally, if you want to submit formal comments to BPA, send them to:

Save our Wild Salmon

On the heels of the Bush Administration's decision to list
hatchery salmon the same as wild salmon and rainbow trout the same as
steelhead, the Administration
formally announced this week their decision to seriously reduce
and in some cases eliminate one of the few effective salmon
restoration measures we have this summer--spilling water over
the Columbia and Snake River dams. As the opinion article in the
Oregonian today points out (see below), the spill program has
been crucial in helping wild salmon migrate to the ocean, and
the Bush Administration's announcement to cut spill shows a
continued failure by the federal government to protect our
salmon, our jobs, and our communities.

Please write a letter to the editor of the Oregonian (sent to, and include your name, address, and
phone number. Tell the Oregonian and the public that today's
opinion article is right--wild salmon are important and cutting
spill is bad for the Northwest. I've included talking points and
copy of the great opinion article to help you write your letter.
Please contact me if you have any questions.

ALSO, if you have time, please attend the public hearing on this
issue that is taking place on Monday (June 14) at 1 p.m. at the
Embassy Suites near the Portland Airport (7900 N.E. 82nd
Avenue). Again, contact me for more information.

Brady Bennon
Save Our Wild Salmon

TALKING POINTS (keep letter to 150 words. Send letters to PLEASE DO NOT 'CC ME. If you can,
shoot me a seperate email letting me know you sent in a letter)

*The Bush Administration's decision to cut spill is another blow
to our already ailing wild salmon. First, the Administration
decided to list hatchery salmon the same as wild salmon. Now
they're cutting an important wild salmon restoration tool. When
is this Administration going to protect our salmon, our fishing,
our jobs and our communities?

*Restoration tools such as SPILL were designed to mitigate for
the damage caused by the dams on the Snake and Columbia Rivers.
If our elected officials are unwilling to do what is needed to
save salmon through such restoration measures, it is obviously
time to do what scientists say is the surest way to recover our
wild salmon--remove the 4 lower Snake River dams.

*The new proposal will kill salmon for pennies saved; it just
doesn't make sense economically, not to mention scientifically,
or legally. This new proposal provides nearly non-existent
financial relief for Northwest ratepayers, and fails to live up
to BPA's own objectives for cutting summer spill. BPA's new plan
will save the average Northwest ratepayer only about 10-cents on
their monthly electric bill, but could kill tens of thousands of
salmon in the process, jeopardizing salmon-dependent businesses
and threatening salmon-dependent family-wage jobs. It just
doesn't add up.

* This proves that cutting summer spill is about one thing:
politics. BPA is refusing to accept the clear scientific facts
before them: summer spill is simply the best way to get young
salmon past deadly hydroelectric dams. The fact that the agency
is willing to sacrifice salmon for so little financial benefit
proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is simply to appease
political interests. BPA should know better than to play
politics with salmon.

* BPA's original proposal did not pass legal, scientific, or
political scrutiny, and the newly scaled-back proposal is no
better. Despite the fact that BPA has scaled back its proposal,
this new version shares the same fatal flaws as the old one; it
utterly fails to make up for the significant harm to listed and
non-listed fish caused by cutting spill. BPA's proposed offsets
are a mix of actions that are already required to meet legal
mandates and would occur anyway regardless of this proposal, and
other actions that are highly uncertain to succeed.

* In the absence of stronger measures to recover salmon, any
reduction in summer spill is too much. The current state of
Northwest salmon recovery is not good, even without cutting
summer spill. This dangerous proposal comes on the heels of a
series of other Bush Administration moves that could spell doom
for Northwest salmon, including a dangerous new policy to count
hatchery-raised salmon as equal to wild salmon. The Bush
Administration is now re-writing it's already-invalidated
Columbia and Snake River Salmon Plan, and cutting summer spill
(among other things) significantly lowers the bar for salmon

* Cutting spill in 2001 is proving to be deadly for salmon; BPA
needs to learn from its past mistakes. In the face of sky-high
energy prices and a drought in 2001, BPA made an ill-fated
decision to eliminate spill that year. At the time, salmon
biologists noted that cutting spill, along with drought
conditions, resulted in the deadliest young salmon migration in
at least a decade. The surviving fish that migrated to the ocean
in 2001 are just now returning to the rivers of the Northwest as
adults to spawn. From the adult returns to-date, it appears that
BPA's actions in 2001 took a toll on salmon returns. With 2004
shaping up to be another poor water year, cutting spill again
would be foolish.


The Bonneville Power Administration's just-released decision on
summer spill will eliminate one of the few remaining effective
measures in the Columbia River Basin to protect salmon and
steelhead: spilling water at the dams so that young fish can
successfully make their journey to the ocean without being
killed in turbines or having to endure a truck ride around the
dam. Why? Because BPA can make money by breaking its promises to
protect these fish.

This is the latest chapter in the sad and tragic story of how
the Columbia River has been reduced from the wild and mighty
artery of the Northwest to a polluted series of slack-water
pools. More importantly, the administration's actions ignore the
win-win solutions that would revitalize our communities and
diversify our economy. When our government leaders converted the
free-flowing Columbia into a series of hydroelectric generating
facilities, they made a bargain with the public, fishermen and
the Indian tribes that relied on salmon for their very survival
-- to operate those dams in ways that would maintain a healthy
fish population. Because juvenile salmon making their way to the
Pacific Ocean don't survive the trip through the turbines very
well, and because other efforts to help fish migrate have failed
(such as putting them in barges and trucks and giving them a
lift to the ocean), the preferred approach has long been
bypassing the turbines by spilling water at the dams in the
spring and summer when young fish are making this journey.

Now, however, the administration will virtually eliminate summer
spill, saying it "costs" too much. That's absurd. Spill doesn't
cost anyone a dime. Rather, it's a potential profit that is not
being generated. To generate that profit, though, would be
illegal -- it would violate laws like the Endangered Species Act
and treaties signed with Indian tribes. It's as if someone were
complaining that laws prohibiting them from selling stolen cars
"costs" them thousands of dollars. You never hear the government
say that it costs them money when farmers take water out of the
river for irrigation, water that would otherwise be available to
generate power.

Why the disparate treatment? Last spring, a federal judge ruled
that the government's salmon recovery plan for the Columbia was
illegal. He concluded that the measures in the plan were too
uncertain to satisfy the law and mitigate the damage done by the
hydro system. The judge gave the Bush administration one year to
come up with a new plan that does more to facilitate fish
survival. Amazingly, they're turning that ruling on its head by
proposing to do even less for fish this summer by eliminating
spill. In this year of low water flows and high river
temperatures, salmon need spill more than ever. By ignoring this
reality, BPA has disregarded the hugely positive economic impact
spill has on fishing communities and is letting politics rather
than science drive its decision.

The damage to salmon of stopping spill is well documented.
During the 2001 drought, BPA eliminated spill on the Columbia
and Snake rivers to maximize hydroelectric generation. This
caused the deadliest juvenile salmon migration since the fish
were listed under the Endangered Species Act. Now, these salmon
are returning as adults, and early figures seem to show that the
2001 spill reduction and drought had an impact on adult returns.
Low returns of salmon that migrated downriver in 2001 are a
major reason salmon returns so far this year are 44 percent
below what was expected. After decades of hand-wringing,
countless scientific studies, endless policy meetings and a
series of court orders, we're largely in the same place that we
started. Dollars come first, and keeping promises to leave a few
fish in the river is an afterthought.

When will the millions of people who have invested billions of
taxpayer and ratepayer dollars toward salmon recovery be heard
above the din of profiteers rushing to the bank? Larry Schweiger
is president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, based
in Washington, D.C.