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Ski
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PostSat Oct 17, 2015 12:20 pm 
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okay... well.. the rubber band was the first thing that came to mind... maybe it's not the best way to explain it.
put a dam in a river and you're applying a force against the natural flow of the stream... at some point, to some degree, that is going to affect things upstream from the dam.
no, rocks are not going to roll uphill, anymore than sediment is going to travel upstream against the current.
the results are increased channel migration, stream braiding, and streambed level changes (bottom of streambed rising, as in the case of the Carbon.)
honestly, I cannot explain it in scientific terms, because I had a difficult time grasping the concept when I first heard/read of it... the papers are pretty thick on this one, graywolf... I'm just a layman, not a scientist.
(and I don't talk to Brenkman or anybody else up at ONP but once in a blue moon.)

Queets and Willapa are about the only rivers we've got left in the continental US (or at least on the west coast) that we haven't mucked around with - dams, diversion barriers, levee walls, etc.
and because virtually all of them have been screwed around with, it makes it difficult to second-guess what the results will be in attempting to undo what's been done.
hell, even the Chehalis was mucked around with: Army Corps of Engineers went in with dynamite and blew all the log jams out of the river clear up past Pe Ell to provide clear and free passage for logs down to Aberdeen.
what would it be like if they had not done that? would those broad bottomlands down near Porter and Malone not flood on an annual basis?

lot of unknowns.

and again: my primary agenda when I first got into this stuff was fish- the decline of anadromous runs.  but there's a hell of a lot more to the "cause" than just dams, part of which we have absolutely no control over.

I lean more to "wait and see". Give the Elwha 10, 20 years and see what happens. Too early to make a call now.

and I'm not real gung-ho about doing away with a source of electricity when the population is increasing exponentially, nor do I get real enthusiastic about putting a damper on a major industry - you can't "fix" all this stuff if you don't have a viable economy.

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graywolf
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PostSat Oct 17, 2015 12:25 pm 
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Ski,
I want you to know how much I appreciate your posts - thank you.

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monorail
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PostSat Oct 17, 2015 4:19 pm 
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Addressing a few points here:

--The Elwha is by no means the first dam removal project on a salmon stream; in fact, there have been quite a few going back several decades.  In every case I know of, the result has been dramatic restoration of salmon runs (including at least two on Idaho's Clearwater, which provide far more relevant beta than the Elwha).  The science is in: dam removal brings back salmon.
For that matter, I don't think the Elwha and the Snake have much in common.  I would say they're as different as two salmon rivers can possibly be.  But if you really want to wait and see how the Elwha pans out, let me reassure you: if legislation to remove the Snake River dams passes today, it will be at least a decade before any real work gets underway, probably longer (legislation authorizing removal of the Elwha dams was passed way back in 1992).  If for some reason something is revealed in the Elwha that didn't show up in any of the previous dam removal projects (and in the unlikely event that this unexpected revelation is applicable to the Snake), we can still call off the project within 10-20 years.  Meanwhile, a hugely-important threatened species is at stake, and we're wasting a billion dollars a year on efforts that aren't really working (some years are better than others, but on the whole the recovery effort has been a failure).

--Concerning economic impacts/loss of shipping: Snake River shipping has already declined dramatically (I think I read it's down 69% from its peak), with farmers increasingly finding that RR offers a better deal.  There's huge opportunities to further improve RR capacity and infrastructure, bringing jobs and new prosperity to the region, and not only offsetting but actually improving agricultural shipping compared to the barges.
Also, keep in mind that 25000 fishing industry jobs have been lost due to the decline of the Snake/Columbia salmon.

--Clean power: Effective power output from the dams is only a fraction of theoretical "nameplate" capacity, amounting to less than 4% of the Northwest's power supply.  Numerous studies have shown that loss of hydro-power could be compensated for mainly with improved efficiency.

--Regarding removal of the lower Columbia dams first: I'd love to see that happen in my lifetime, but by far the biggest fish-killers are the lower Snake dams (there's a variety of reasons for that, most of which I don't remember off the top of my head).  Also, the lower Columbia dams are much bigger power generators than the Snake. Removing the lower Columbia dams first would be by far the maximum cataclysm for the least benefit: you'd still cut off shipping on the Snake, and also to the Tri-Cities and various other places, and you'd lose a LOT more power generation, but the biggest salmon-killing dams would remain in place.
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PostSat Oct 17, 2015 5:50 pm 
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thanks. good points.
RR vs barge: no argument there. all for it.

re:
"Meanwhile, a hugely-important threatened species is at stake, and we're wasting a billion dollars a year on efforts that aren't really working (some years are better than others, but on the whole the recovery effort has been a failure)."

like loading them on trucks and moving them up and around the dams on the Cowlitz?
again, no argument.

re:
"but by far the biggest fish-killers are the lower Snake dams (there's a variety of reasons for that, most of which I don't remember off the top of my head)."

what are the key words you type into Google to get to that one?
I am not at all familiar with which dam is doing exactly what... all I know is there's a whole mess of dams and not all the fish ladders are doing what was intended (or at least nowhere near the degree we'd hope for.)

I'm not necessarily opposed to dam removal, but I don't see it as a panacea for all that's wrong with anadromous fisheries. I don't believe there are simple answers to complex problems.
and I'm not "sold" on the Elwha deal until we see some real long-term results - as I said: 10-20 years.
Elwha had the biggest runs on the Peninsula at one time - more than any of the rest. Whether that comes back on its own, and to what degree, remains to be seen.

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PostSat Oct 17, 2015 6:21 pm 
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I have a hard time taking any of the dam removal stuff on the big rivers seriously as long as we still have a salmon fishery and gill nets on the Columbia.  It seems like it would be a much cheaper alternative to ban salmon fishing, but that is not POLITICALLY feasible.

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PostSat Oct 17, 2015 6:47 pm 
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treeswarper wrote:
I have a hard time taking any of the dam removal stuff on the big rivers seriously as long as we still have a salmon fishery and gill nets on the Columbia.  It seems like it would be a much cheaper alternative to ban salmon fishing, but that is not POLITICALLY feasible.

Gill nets have already been banned on the main stem of the Columbia:
http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/oregon-approves-gill-net-ban-on-columbia/

I'd certainly advocate a complete ban on salmon fishing in the Columbia, but I think you're probably right that it's not politically feasible to go that far. Besides, if we can provide a big boost to salmon recovery by removing dams and restoring rivers and streams, why not do so? Even if banning fishing would help more, if that isn't possible shouldn't we do everything else we can? It's been pretty well established that the negative consequences of removing the Snake river dams are fairly insignificant, and that the potential benefits of their removal could be great indeed. I can't see any sense in not supporting their removal just because salmon fishing can't be entirely eliminated.

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PostSat Oct 17, 2015 7:23 pm 
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Tribal fisheries are not affected by the proposed new rules. -- The last sentence of that article.

Gill netting is still alive on the Columbia.

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PostSat Oct 17, 2015 8:23 pm 
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It may still exist, but it has been significantly reduced.

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PostSat Oct 17, 2015 8:24 pm 
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again, there are other "causes", none of which dam removal (or curtailing gill-netting) address:

- point and non-point pollution sources from residential/agricultural/industrial operations.
- increased water temperatures in the northern Pacific Ocean.
- increased stream temperatures in tributaries (caused by timber harvest and/or residential/commercial development.
- depletion of food fish stocks in northern Pacific Ocean.

lot of fix needed.
fixing one thing doesn't do it all.
might put a hell of a dent in it without concrete dams, but that's on paper - we haven't seen it yet on the ground (or in the water.)

no simple solutions, no matter how much money you throw at it.

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PostSat Oct 17, 2015 8:58 pm 
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No Ski, cities and their runoff have no effects on salmon or anything.  Population increases do not have any effects at all.   Nor do adding extra lanes to roads, snow removal chemicals, etc. 

It is all the fault of the logging and dams.  That's why streams have been buffered since the 1990s.  Haven't you noticed a massive jump in the populations of salmon since then? 

We buffer streams, the streams leave the woods and then enter farmland, where the cows go down to the streams and rivers for their water and there is not much cover--kayak the Cowlitz.  Then the water goes through the populated areas, where parking lot runoff and paved over creeks obviously must not affect the fish at all because we allow that to go unchecked.  Are there fish friendly culverts required in the city?   I don't think there are any operating seasons for yardwork, or spraying Weed and Feed on those lawns.

Nope, the protection of riparian areas in the woods ought to fix things just fine, nothing else causes any effects on fish. 

It is much more dramatic to call for costly measures like dam removal, than starting to curtail the mundane activities in cities and suburbia.  Can't have weedy yards, you know.

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PostSat Oct 17, 2015 9:22 pm 
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lol.gif

as I said above: no simple solutions/fixes.

and just a note on a comment above regarding tribal gill netting:

per ONP's fisheries biologist*, less than 1% of the take from the Queets River is sportfishing.

do the math.



(* pers. comm. SB/ONP/phone)

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PostSat Oct 17, 2015 9:24 pm 
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tw wrote:
Haven't you noticed a massive jump in the populations of salmon since then?

no.. I must not be paying close enough attention... but I have seen a significant increase in Spotted Owl population numbers since the NWFP was written. up.gif

wink.gif

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PostSat Oct 17, 2015 9:36 pm 
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rolleyes.gif I don't think that anyone is claiming that dams, fishing, logging, or any other single problem is the only thing that should be addressed to help restore salmon.

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PostSun Oct 18, 2015 9:16 am 
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I know that I have read that something like 90% of the salmon that arrive at the base of the Bonneville Dam make it past it. But a quick search did not turn up the source of that and I don't know if it is fully proven and widely accepted or not.

As to using efficiency to replace the electricity, there is indeed a vast potential for efficiency improvements to either replace energy sources or avoid the need to build new generating capacity. But it requires thousands if not millions of property owners to find and spend the cash on those retrofits. Some efficiency improvements have quick paybacks in savings, some take over a decade, some may not pay for themselves in their lifetime. A concentrated effort to implement efficiency improvements is difficult because the effort is so distributed among private property owners.

There are many reasons besides removing dams why doing this would be a good thing, and some demand management programs have helped. But so far nothing has gotten close to potential in the real world. Even legislation to incentivize moving away from horrendously wasteful incandescent lighting has become prey to partisanship as well as claims that other forms of lighting have health issues due to a different spectrum of light.
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PostSun Oct 18, 2015 1:15 pm 
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drm wrote:
...as well as claims that other forms of lighting have health issues.

This is actually true!  Anyone who suffers from migraines (this includes me) can tell you that compact fluorescent and LED lights are truly a nightmare.  Seriously, they feel like someone driving a knife through my eyeballs and into my brain, and then twisting it continuously. But there are energy-saving incandescents now, and other alternatives in the works.  And the reality is that most people use way more artifical light than they need. 
Anyway, I don't think a 4% efficiency improvement is really such a big deal.  I think almost everyone could achieve way more than that without spending any money at all, just by turning off lights when they aren't needed.  Walk down your street at night, and look around at all the extraneous light everywhere, as if everyone just watched a scary movie or something.

Concerning causes of salmon troubles: for the Columbia/Snake river basin, according to the Oregon DFW 90% of human-caused salmon mortality is due to dams.  5% is due to fishing, including tribal fishing.  You may be right about the numbers going up over Bonneville, but most of the fish killing happens on the way downstream through the turbines (not to mention habitat destruction and warming of impeded waters).  And the worst of it seems to be on the Snake dams: the Hanford Reach runs are relatively healthy (kind of ironic), while the Snake River runs are endangered.  The lower Snake River dams were unique in that they faced strong opposition, even in the height of the dam-building era, from those who recognized their disastrous consequences.  And sure enough, as soon as they were built, the salmon populations plummeted.  So, while dams are not the only problem, I don't see how anyone can fail to see that they're the biggest problem.  And breaching them is by far the cheapest solution, since it is now costing far more to keep them in place than it would cost to take them out.
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