Save Our wild Salmon: The Blog
Where we candidly and accurately react to and reflect on current affairs impacting wild salmon and salmon jobs. And of course, never missing the opportunity to point out that those obsolete dams on the Lower Snake River need to go. Bloggers include SOS staff, with occassional guest entries.
Associated Press: Orca population in Puget Sound falling
Not only are Puget Sound’s resident killer whales continuing to decline in numbers, but their behavior is changing, too, according to scientists. The orcas seem to be splintering from their basic social groups and spending less time together.
August 30, 2014
FRIDAY HARBOR — With two new deaths this year and no new calves since 2012, the population of endangered killer whales in the Puget Sound continues to decline.
The number of whales in the J, K and L pods has dropped to 78, a level not seen since 1985, according to a census by the Center for Whale Research. Adding to the concerns, the whales appear to be “splintering” from their pods, which are their basic social groups.
Since 1976, Ken Balcomb of the research center has been observing the Puget Sound orcas, or Southern Residents as they’re known among scientists. Balcomb compiles an annual census of the population for submission to the federal government.
Historically, all three pods of orcas have come together in the San Juan Islands during summer months, often feeding and socializing in large groups, Balcomb noted. But for the past few years, the pods have divided themselves into small groups, sometimes staying together but often staying apart.
“What we’re seeing with this weird association pattern is two or three members of one pod with two or three from another pod,” Balcomb said. “It’s a fragmentation of the formal social structure, and you can see that fragmentation going further. They are often staying miles and miles apart and not interacting.
“If we were trying to name the pods now, we couldn’t do it,” he added. “They aren’t associating in those patterns anymore.”
Among killer whales, offspring tend to stay with their mothers for life, sustaining identifiable “matrilines” that typically contain youngsters, their mothers and their grandmothers. So far, the matrilines have stayed together, though many of these groups are now smaller.
Balcomb suggests the primary factor for the population decline is a lack of food for the killer whales, which generally prey on chinook salmon passing through the San Juan Islands on the way back to Canada’s Fraser River. The whales have a strong preference for chinook, typically larger and fatter fish, but they will eat other species of salmon and even other fish sometimes.
“The salmon issue is huge, and it is ongoing,” Balcomb said.
New York Times: Large Dams Just Aren’t Worth the Cost
By JACQUES LESLIEAUG. 22, 2014
THAYER SCUDDER, the world’s leading authority on the impact of dams on poor people, has changed his mind about dams.
A frequent consultant on large dam projects, Mr. Scudder held out hope through most of his 58-year career that the poverty relief delivered by a properly constructed and managed dam would outweigh the social and environmental damage it caused. Now, at age 84, he has concluded that large dams not only aren’t worth their cost, but that many currently under construction “will have disastrous environmental and socio-economic consequences,” as he wrote in a recent email.
Mr. Scudder, an emeritus anthropology professor at the California Institute of Technology, describes his disillusionment with dams as gradual. He was a dam proponent when he began his first research project in 1956, documenting the impact of forced resettlement on 57,000 Tonga people in the Gwembe Valley of present-day Zambia and Zimbabwe. Construction of the Kariba Dam, which relied on what was then the largest loan in the World Bank’s history, required the Tonga to move from their ancestral homes along the Zambezi River to infertile land downstream. Mr. Scudder has been tracking their disintegration ever since.
Once cohesive and self-sufficient, the Tonga are troubled by intermittent hunger, rampant alcoholism and astronomical unemployment. Desperate for income, some have resorted to illegal drug cultivation and smuggling, elephant poaching, pimping and prostitution. Villagers still lack electricity.
Mr. Scudder’s most recent stint as a consultant, on the Nam Theun 2 Dam in Laos, delivered his final disappointment. He and two fellow advisers supported the project because it required the dam’s funders to carry out programs that would leave people displaced by the dam in better shape than before the project started. But the dam was finished in 2010, and the programs’ goals remain unmet. Meanwhile, the dam’s three owners are considering turning over all responsibilities to the Laotian government — “too soon,” Mr. Scudder said in an interview. “The government wants to build 60 dams over the next 20 or 30 years, and at the moment it doesn’t have the capacity to deal with environmental and social impacts for any single one of them.
“Nam Theun 2 confirmed my longstanding suspicion that the task of building a large dam is just too complex and too damaging to priceless natural resources,” he said. He now thinks his most significant accomplishment was not improving a dam, but stopping one: He led a 1992 study that helped prevent construction of a dam that would have harmed Botswana’s Okavango Delta, one of the world’s last great wetlands.
Columbia Basin Bulletin: Dworshak Unit Out: River Managers Mull Options To Maintain Cool Conditions For Snake River Salmon
Friday, August 22, 2014
A primary source of cool water used to improve Snake River salmon summertime migration conditions was pinched Aug. 15, leaving fish and hydro system management representatives to debate how to make the best out of a bad situation.
Unit 3 at Dworshak Dam – the largest of the three generating units at the dam in terms of water passing capability-- went out of service at 3:30 p.m. last Friday due to a ground fault that resulted in a reduction of outflow from 9,800 cubic feet per second down to 6.5 kcfs. That 6.5 kcfs total includes about 2 kcfs released through spill gates to replace a part of the roughly 5.5 kcfs in flow lost when Unit 3 was shut down.
From a fish migration perspective, running as much cool water as possible through the turbines is a preferred option because that operation stirs up little total dissolved gas in the river below while helping improve migration conditions.
Another water release option is spill. It creates more TDG that can at higher levels threaten fish health.
Federal, state and tribal fish managers on Wednesday asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which operates the dam, to push up spill to restore outflows to previous levels of about 10 kcfs in order to increase the probability that water temperatures downstream will be at desired levels.
Signed on to the “system operational request” are the National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Colville Tribes, the Nez Perce Tribe and the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. A spokesman for the state of Idaho said it would not object to the proposed operation.
Al Jazeera: Elder’s devotion to ugly fish lives on after his tragic death
Elmer Crow believed the eel-like lamprey plays an important role in ecosystem balance
August 20, 2014
by Kevin Taylor
SPALDING, Idaho — Like salmon, lampreys are born in fresh water and journey to the ocean for several years before they return to spawn. They once numbered in the millions up and down the Columbia and Snake river basins of Washington and Idaho, but unlike with wild salmon, few people seem to care that lampreys are now nearly gone. But Elmer Crow Jr. did.
Crow, who died tragically a year ago, would sometimes see lone lampreys undulate past while he was out fishing. He said he always wondered if he was seeing the last one. A Nez Perce tribal elder and fisheries worker, he worked tirelessly to save the ancient fish from extinction. He encouraged an experimental technique called translocation — gathering lampreys from the lower Columbia River, where they are still relatively plentiful, and releasing them in Idaho mountain streams in hopes they would spawn there.
When Crow and others drove to John Day Dam on the lower Columbia to collect the eel-like adult lampreys and haul them back to the Nez Perce hatchery in late 2006, nobody really knew if translocation would work. The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation have been running a lamprey translocation program since the early 2000s, but only last year have they started to see small but encouraging returns of adult lampreys.
This summer, when fisheries biologists sorted through the findings in a screw trap anchored in a central Idaho mountain stream, they discovered Crow was right.
Energy & Environment Publishing: EPA finalizes agreement setting 'buffer zones' around salmon streams
Thursday, August 14, 2014
U.S. EPA finalized a settlement yesterday that prohibits the use of five pesticides in "buffer zones" around endangered salmon habitat in a win for environmental groups that had sued the agency.
The settlement stipulates buffers for five insecticides: diazinon, chlorpyrifos, malathion, carbaryl and methomyl. For aerial spraying, the chemicals will be prohibited within 300 feet of salmon habitat; for ground-based applications, buffers will shrink to 60 feet.
Environmental groups say the chemicals are highly toxic and can harm salmon and its habitat (Greenwire, June 6). But Republicans have characterized the settlement as part of a "sue and settle" trend where EPA and environmentalists make regulatory decisions behind closed doors.
In a statement, House Natural Resources Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) called the restrictions "baseless," citing a 2013 court decision that found a biological opinion on three of the pesticides "arbitrary and capricious" (Greenwire, Feb. 22, 2013). The National Marine Fisheries Service had released the opinion -- which called for 1,000-foot buffer zones -- in the wake of lawsuits from environmentalists.
Energy & Environment Publishing: Hastings blasts leaking dams settlement
Thursday, August 7, 2014
The Washington Republican who chairs the House Committee on Natural Resources is not happy with a legal settlement reached this week that will require the Army Corps of Engineers to get federal permits for pollution leaking from major hydropower dams in the Pacific Northwest.
The agreement, which ends a lawsuit brought last year against the corps by the Columbia Riverkeeper, will for the first time require the agency to monitor and report on oil and grease leaked into rivers from its turbines and other equipment. The agency also agreed to seek National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, or NPDES, permits from U.S. EPA for such discharges (Greenwire, Aug. 5).
In a letter to the commanding general of the Army Corps, Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) argued that the agreement gives EPA too much power over dams that are important sources of electricity, irrigation, navigation and flood control in the region.
"In an era when EPA's regulatory authority is already highly controversial and seemingly without bounds, this lack of consultation by the Obama administration's Justice Department or Army Corps with
Northwest interests that have a keen and ongoing interest in the operation and maintenance of the Columbia and Snake River hydropower dams is frankly inexcusable," he wrote.
That environmental groups have hailed the settlement as potentially precedent-setting has Hastings particularly concerned.
- Aug 08, 2014 - KPLU: New Life After Dam Removal: Surf Smelt Spawning In Mouth Of Elwha
- Aug 05, 2014 - Associated Press: Army Corps of Engineers will monitor, disclose dam pollution
- Jul 31, 2014 - Nature Science Journal: Dam removals: Rivers on the run
- Jul 21, 2014 - Associated Press: EPA To Protect Salmon Fishery By Blocking Massive Alaska Mine
- Jul 10, 2014 - As dams fall, Elwha River makes stunning recovery
- May 09, 2014 - Remembering a legend: Billy Frank, Jr.
- May 06, 2014 - Statement on the passing of Billy Frank, Jr.
- Mar 20, 2014 - Northwest News: Fish Experts Plan A Salmon Water Slide On Cracked Wanapum Dam
- Mar 19, 2014 - Wenatchee World: Wanapum Dam spillway crack, showing algae, likely not new
- Mar 02, 2014 - New York Times: A Reprieve for Bristol Bay
- Feb 01, 2014 - Join SOS and Idaho River Adventures this July for a wild trip down the Middle Fork of the Salmon River!
- Jan 23, 2014 - Update: a not-so-new Federal Plan for Columbia/Snake salmon and steelhead
- Jan 03, 2014 - New York Times Blog: The Law That Save the Bald Eagle
- Dec 29, 2013 - Is the Northwest regaining lost ground?
- Dec 05, 2013 - An enhanced spill experiment – costs and carbon impacts are modest and manageable.
- Nov 20, 2013 - Seattle Times: Elwha River sees largest run of Chinook in decades
- Oct 23, 2013 - B.C. Releases Draft Columbia River Treaty Recommendations
- Oct 01, 2013 - Action Alert - Salmon Need
- Sep 25, 2013 - LA Times: Big chinook run doesn't let Columbia dams off the hook, activists say
- Sep 12, 2013 - Lewiston Morning Tribune: Feds deal blow to Nez Perce Tribe, salmon advocates
- Sep 05, 2013 - SOS and Idaho River Adventures on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River
- Aug 31, 2013 - Announcing a leadership transition for SOS
- Aug 15, 2013 - Save Our wild Salmon submits comments on the Columbia River Treaty
- Jul 15, 2013 - Save the law that protects America's natural capital.
- Jul 15, 2013 - Seattle Times: Lamprey Eel - bringing back an ancient species
- Jun 07, 2013 - High Country News Book Review: Elwha, a story of today's West
- May 13, 2013 - All Scientists Are Saying Is…"Give (More) Spill A Chance."
- Apr 10, 2013 - Chicago Tribune: Interior Department recommends removal of Klamath River dams to aid salmon
- Mar 05, 2013 - Farewell to Fenton Roskelley - outdoor writer, sportsman, and conservationist
- Jan 30, 2013 - Change on the Fly
- Jan 17, 2013 - Save Our wild Salmon Coalition welcomes new BPA administrator Bill Drummond
- Jan 11, 2013 - In Gratitude
- Jan 08, 2013 - Thank you for a successful End-of-2012 Fund Drive!
- Dec 04, 2012 - Confusing sockeye hatcheries with sockeye recovery
- Nov 07, 2012 - NOAA, We Have a Problem
- Oct 25, 2012 - Thank you for 13 excellent years
- Oct 22, 2012 - Looking to the Future: New report challenges the Northwest’s aging dam infrastructure
- Oct 08, 2012 - Run Wild for Salmon athletes exceed their goal.
- Oct 04, 2012 - Senator Wyden Supports New Approach to Salmon Restoration
- Oct 01, 2012 - Feds Maintain Status Quo as Salmon Numbers Struggle
- Sep 27, 2012 - Author attempts world record run for salmon
- Sep 25, 2012 - “I’m Pro-Salmon, and I Vote”
- Sep 21, 2012 - A Baker's Dozen
- Sep 18, 2012 - Salmon, Coal, and the Columbia River’s Future
- Sep 14, 2012 - The salmon aren’t celebrating Bonneville’s 75th
- Sep 07, 2012 - Run Wild for Salmon - Meet the Runners
- Aug 30, 2012 - Boil On Columbia
- Aug 28, 2012 - 2012 Salmon and Steelhead Returns Still Poor
- Aug 14, 2012 - The Worst Dam Bill Ever
- Aug 06, 2012 - The Most Interesting Fish in the World
- Aug 03, 2012 - In Virginia: Dam Removal Helping Eels
- Aug 01, 2012 - Outdoor Retailer is here!
- Jul 25, 2012 - Outdoor Idaho Focuses on Idaho's Salmon
- Jul 23, 2012 - Run Wild for Salmon - Portland Marathon 2012
- Jul 19, 2012 - If you un-build it, the fish will come
- Jul 16, 2012 - Rivers Gone Wild! - Patagonia-style...
- Jul 13, 2012 - Roll On Columbia Roll On
- Jun 29, 2012 - Sockeye Numbers at Bonneville Dam are Encouraging
- Jun 28, 2012 - Saving Salmon to Save Orcas
- Jun 25, 2012 - Maine's Great Works and the Columbia-Snake Opportunity
- Jun 21, 2012 - Lamprey Summit Sets a Good Example
- Jun 20, 2012 - Victory: Highway to Hell Defeated
- May 21, 2012 - Book a river trip and help support SOS
- May 18, 2012 - TAKE ACTION: Visualize your support for salmon!
- May 15, 2012 - Solutions for one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers
- May 11, 2012 - Spill, Judge Redden, and the Need for a New Process
- May 03, 2012 - Mother's wants a seat at the table
- Apr 26, 2012 - Judge Redden Supports Dam Removal
- Mar 24, 2012 - Men's Journal Features LSR Dam Removal
- Mar 07, 2012 - Court-Ordered Spill Helps Salmon Returns and Jobs
- Feb 22, 2012 - HB 4101: Serious Issue, Bad Bill
- Feb 21, 2012 - Paul Fish: Salmon Super Hero
- Feb 15, 2012 - Showing NOAA Some Love for Valentine’s Day
- Feb 07, 2012 - Toxic Oil Spill on the Lower Snake; What Next?
- Feb 01, 2012 - Sea Change for Port of Lewiston?
- Jan 25, 2012 - Mascot Love at Outdoor Retailer
- Jan 19, 2012 - Osprey Packs to host Buster, Ice-P, Bigfoot, and Timmy O'Neil at Outdoor Retailer
- Jan 12, 2012 - Outside Sees Momentum for Dam Removal in 2012
- Jan 10, 2012 - Patagonia’s Salmon Super Heroes
- Jan 06, 2012 - Salmon…and bikinis?