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Sockeye Salmon. Photo Credit: USGS

Opinion: Jump Starting Salmon Recovery

By Chris Hager, Executive Director

Chris Hager is the executive director of the Association of Northwest Steelheaders. He was also appointed by Gov. Brown to serve on the Oregon Conservation and Recreation Advisory Committee and volunteers with the local chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. He recently published an opinion piece in the Eugene Register-Guard combatting misinformation about the impact sportfishing harvests have on wild endangered salmon populations. It was originally published on December 1, 2020 and is copied below for reference.

K urt Miller’s article published on Nov. 12 mischaracterizes decades of independent science highlighting the devastating impacts that the four lower Snake River dams have on migrating salmon.

In the federal government’s most recent salmon plan, it reported that removing the lower Snake River dams would more than double salmon returns to the Columbia River, which could recover them from risk of extinction. Instead, Miller touts a new study funded by Bonneville Power Administration —who manages and benefits financially from the dams — as evidence that existing scientific data is lacking.

Miller claims that because recreational, commercial and Tribal harvests aren’t incorporated into existing studies, their findings are inadequate. These entities do not harvest wild salmon. Instead, most harvests are restricted to a specific number of hatchery fish, as required by the Endangered Species Act.

Enough. Salmon recovery has stalled for nearly two decades while Bonneville continues to use the same arguments to justify these dams. We don’t have more time to waste if we are going to save our salmon. It’s time to find an innovative solution that works for fish, people and our regional economy — a solution anchored in breaching the lower Snake River dams.