Salmon and the Snake River Dams

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by wyaniero
Last updated 4 years ago

Discipline:
Science
Subject:
Ecology

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Salmon and the Snake River Dams

Salmon and the Snake River Dams

Many people call for the complete removal of all four of the dams. All salmon runs in the river are endangered, and those in favor of dam removal claim it is the only method that will allow salmon to recover to a sustainable population.

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What happens to the salmon?

Possible Solutions

Salmon, including the Chinook (King) and Steelhead that travel the Snake River, depend on cool, swift moving rivers as a place to spawn.

The Snake River Dams

The Snake River is a major tributary of the Colombia River System in the Pacific Northwest. There are four dams of interest along the Snake River: Ice Harbor Dam, Lower Monumental Dam, Little Goose Dam, and Lower Granite Dam. Together they generate 3033 MW of electricity.

Dams block the natural flow of the river and reduce water velocity. Reservoirs behind dams destroy the surrounding natural habitat and form a body of warmer, slow moving water where debris and sediment become trapped.

Adult salmon traveling upriver cannot bypass the dams without some sort of assisted method, and juvenile fish that have reacently hatched and are heading downstream may die due to the difficulty of getting through the reservoir and up and over the dam. Juvenile salmon are also especially sensitive to the warmer water in the reservoirs.

Snake River Quick Facts- Length: 1040 miles (1674 km)- Discharge: 56900 ft3/s - Source: Rocky Mtns. (WY)- Mouth: Colombia River (WA)

Salmon, especially Chinook, are also an important food source for the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales.They are important food for people too, as sport fisherman and the local Native American groups have fished on the river for many years.

These conditions alsoinhibit salmon from spawning at all, as salmon will not lay their eggs in too warm or too slow water.

However, due to serving as a source of substantial hydroelectric power and water storage, many others, including the majority of elected officials, oppose dam removal.

Some methods to assist the travel of salmon without removal of the dam include moving the juvenile fish around the dam on barges, passages that allow the fish to move around the dams (such as fish ladders), and turbines with a lower fish mortality rate. Even so, fish stocks continue to decline.

An ideal solution must combine the needs of the fish and the needs of the people who depend on the Snake River dams.

Whitney Yaniero17 April 2015

Abstract(in attachments)

Map of the Snake River and associated watershed

References(in attachments)

Ice Harbor Dam, located in Washington State

A petition is currently up on change.org in support of undamming the Snake River in order to support the dwindling Southern Resident Killer Whales


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