Removal of Harmful Dams along the Columbia River to Protect Salmon and Steelhead Species
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Dams were originally made to create hydro power, irrigation and a cheap way to help ships transport cargo down rivers. However, today there are around 14 dams on the Columbia, and Snake Rivers which are threatening the survival of 13 runs of the salmon and steel head population.
Salmon and Steel head are practically the foundation of all rivers, providing food for many species including humans. It is true that with dams we are gaining clean and reliable power but, we are undermining another resource that is just as important. The wild Salmon population in the Pacific Northwest Columbia River basin has decreased by 85% in last ½ century. According to the Hydro power Reform Coalition, certain natural materials that are necessary for habitats are building up in dams. These materials usually go downstream but when built up take oxygen from the water and the fish around them. This effect is called “dead zones”, which deprive fish of oxygen and creating an unnatural habitat for a lot of wildlife. Along with this, another cause of salmon and steel head population decrease, is the increase of transportation of cargo ships on the rivers coming from areas like Portland. These ships create an unnatural flow of water and noise pollution that distorts the fish’s ability to function in the rivers. On the Columbia the dams and locks connect to neighboring rivers like the Snake River, making transportation easier and better for the environment than trains. Although the transportation is convenient, the liabilities weigh out the assets.
What is being done?
Scientists and the US government have put forth much research into increasing salmon population making the survival rates of salmon much higher than ever but, there is not much population left to increase. The US government has spent $500 million on habitat restoration in the hope to improve the health of the river and wildlife, by adding 3,000 miles of spawning habitats. There are still many dams that function under primitive technology and don’t account for the needs of fish. Organizations such as the BPA are working on replacing these ancient dams with modern counterparts that is beneficial to all. David Montgomery, a professor at University of Washington says salmon are “extremely resilient creatures”, so removal of dams would increase the populations. They would be able to bounce back and in no time, their numbers would increase. The mass decline in salmon population is an issue we created therefore it is our responsibility to innovate and produce dams that will correct our mistakes. This is a step in the right direction, and if the government continues to put money towards it, the salmon population may increase. Sign this petition to save the salmon and steel head population on the Columbia!
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