Removing dams too drastic a measure to save salmon, orcas

For the record, I do love seeing orcas and other whales in the Puget Sound.

Seems there are still many groups who think the only way to save our resident orca population is to remove the four lower Snake River dams in Eastern Washington. They claim it must happen now to open up thousands of miles of tributaries for salmon spawning. There’s science behind it, I understand. They claim we must do everything we can to save salmon, which will help the orcas survive in Puget Sound. Even if given the green light tomorrow, it will take years to remove the dams.

But we’re not doing everything we can to help salmon in Puget Sound right now.

According to a 2015 estimate, seals ate 8.6 million chinook salmon in the Salish Sea, while our resident orcas only ate 83,200 chinook. Seems to me if we are really serious about saving salmon and orcas, we should be doing something to reduce the number of seals and sea lions in Puget Sound. A 2017 estimate puts the population of harbor seals at 51,000. I’m pretty sure there’s never been that many seals in the sound. The Marine Mammals Protection Act is outdated and needs to be changed. This applies to the whole West Coast. Salmon would benefit everywhere from San Francisco to British Columbia.

I’m not a fan of removing the dams on the Snake. I believe global warming is real. And I think it’s a bit crazy to contemplate removing these four dams which provide irrigation water to some of our best farmland, when we are seeing more and more severe draughts. We need to do everything we can to protect our domestic food supplies, and water supplies. Seattle residents may be drinking water from behind those dams 20 years from now. Who knows where global warming will take us.

My point is, do what we know we can do today to help save salmon and orcas. But do not take drastic measures like setting the wheels in motion to remove dams without a comprehensive plan that mitigates all the potential effects of global warming on us humans. Unless your goal is more orcas, and less humans around to bother them.

Curt Bry


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