There are alternatives to breaching dams to help salmon

There have been many articles and letters about breaching the lower Snake River dams to revive salmon production and to help save the orcas.

Salmon fry, on their downstream migration, face upstream and drift downstream in the streams’ current. When they drift into a reservoir, they loose their sense of direction and are at a loss as to where to go. This delay makes them easy prey to predatory birds and fish.

Here is an alternate solution to the breaching of the Snake River dams:

1. During the few months of downstream salmon fry migration, stop all power generation at these four dams. There is approximately 5 percent mortality to salmon fry passing through an operating generator.

2. Open both the upstream and downstream gates on the ship locks. This might require some alteration to the gate mechanism, but it should be doable. With these gates open, water levels behind the dams would lower and a downstream current would be established to speed up the downstream migration of salmon fry and greatly reduce their mortality.

With a reduced salmon-fry mortality, there should be a significant increase in the number of salmon returning to spawn in the Snake and Salmon rivers.

In a few years, large salmon runs might again return to spawn in Redfish Lake in the headwaters of the Salmon River in Idaho

Jack E. Sceva


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