Removing dams, Rewilding salmon, Revitalizing communities.
Author Steve Hawley releases new book on Columbia-Snake Basin, providing "a powerful argument for why dam removal makes good scientific, economic, and environmental sense—and requires our urgent attention."
This book is available online at Powell's Books.
In the Pacific Northwest, the Snake River and its wilderness tributaries were once among the world’s greatest salmon rivers. As recently as a half-century ago, they retained some of their historic bounty, with millions of fish returning to spawn. Now, due to four federal dams, Snake River salmon populations have dropped close to extinction. Expensive efforts to recover salmon with fish ladders, hatcheries, and even trucking and barging them around the dams have failed.
Steven Hawley, journalist and self-proclaimed “river rat,” argues that the best hope for the Snake River lies in dam removal, a solution that pits powerful energy interests and Army Corps of Engineers against a coalition of Indian tribes, fishermen and women, clean energy advocates, and outdoor recreation companies along with hundreds of other businesses. Hawley demonstrates how the river’s health is closely connected to local economies, water rights, energy independence—and even the health of endangered orca whales in Puget Sound.
The story of the Snake River, its salmon, and its people raises the fundamental questions of who should exercise control over natural resources and which interests should receive highest priority. It also offers surprising counterpoints to the notion of hydropower as a cheap, green, and reliable source of energy, and challenges the wisdom of heavily subsidized water and electricity.
This regional battle is part of an ambitious river restoration movement that stretches across the country from Maine’s Kennebec to California’s Klamath, and engages citizens from a broad social spectrum. In one successful project, the salmon of Butte Creek rebounded from a paltry fourteen fish to twenty thousand within just a few years of rewilding their river, showing the incredible resiliency of nature when given the opportunity.
Recovering a Lost River depicts the compelling arguments and actions being made on behalf of salmon and fishing communities by a growing army of river advocates. Their message, persistent but disarmingly simple, is that all salmon need is clean, cold water in their rivers, and a clear way home.