I hope you watched that video.
If you didn't, please go watch that video.
For those of you who are like myself, and the sadness of the videos about the decline of nature with melancholy ambience music distracts you from picking up the facts, I am here. I'm going to break it down as best I can, from the knowledge I have.
First of all, I only recently discovered this issue. I like to call it one of the PNW's best-kept public secrets. I live only 4 hours away from the Snake River, yet I had no idea of the conservation crisis that spans three states.
Basically, four dams span the expanse of the lower Snake River. The hydropower dams were completed between 1962 and 1975, and since then they've been the topic for debate because almost immediately there was a decline in salmon populations.
Big deal... they're just fish.
But no! Salmon are the epitome of the circle of life here in Idaho and beyond. Not only do the dams impact the salmon, but they also impact 137 other species that are part of the salmon food chain.
The aspens in the Sawtooth Valley are dying from Pine Beetle infestations, because the soil is void of minerals that should be provided by salmon respawning, dying, and decomposing with bodies full of ocean-rich nutrients. Without these nutrients, the trees don't have the strength to fight their parasitic attackers.
Orca whales are dying of starvation as they wait for the chinook salmon to arrive at the mouth of the Columbia River, only to be disappointed by a depressingly small population of fish. The three local Seattle orca pods have dropped to a total population of 73, down from a 99 high in the 1980s, and scientists are worried that they are dropping below a sustainable level.
Additionally, the economic argument for the dams is weakening. As renewable energy sources like solar, wind, and natural gas power become cheaper options, the need for hydroelectric dams like those on the Snake is virtually defunct.
This is only a brief summary of a deep issue, so if you want more information I highly encourage you to read this article I found from the Yale School of Environment, and check out the website for the Idaho Conservation League here.
I also highly encourage anyone and everyone to send a letter to your congressman (or woman!) pleading with them to take action. WE, the people, are the power. Use your voice to defend the Earth so that many more generations can enjoy her beauty.
Text IDAHO FISH to 52886