By J. Michael Short
August 12 , 2020
I grew up hunting and fishing, hiking and camping along the Snake River when it ran wild and free. We picked fruit from orchards at Wawawai. I have memories of stopping at Wawawai Store for a candy bar on many a hunting trip, and of swimming in the current of the river while waiting for the Lyons Ferry to arrive and take us across the river at a time when a Washington State University archaeological crew was frantically excavating Marmes Rockshelter before it was flooded out by the rising waters behind Lower Monumental Dam.
I learned to rock climb at Granite Point. But by that time in the early 1970s, clearing and construction for Lower Granite Dam was well underway. The orchards, where only a few years earlier we had picked peaches and apricots, were gone. The old Wawawai Store was nothing more than a ruin, soon to be completely demolished.
I watched as a wild and free river was turned into a series of slackwater reservoirs. A once-thriving river community and semiwild ecosystem turned into something that looks almost lifeless to me. To this very day, it breaks my heart to see.
The final Environmental Impact Statement just put out by the Army Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Reclamation, and Bonneville Power Administration only furthers this heartbreak by refusing to offer real solutions to the fish and communities hurt by the construction of these four dams.
It’s time we look elsewhere for the leadership these rivers need.