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Upstream Battle to Save the Salmon
Wall Street Journal letter October 4, 2006; Page A15, by Bob Lohn Northwest Regional Director NOAA Fisheries Seattle, Karen Durham-Aguilera, director of Programs, Northwestern Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Steve Wright, administrator, Bonneville Power Administration, Portland, Ore.)
Your recent article "Inside the Failure of $8 Billion Effort to Save Prized Fish" (page one, Sept. 19), describing efforts to recover threatened and endangered Pacific Northwest salmon, makes clear what an enormously complex task we have in rebuilding fish populations. From the perspective of the federal agencies with key roles in achieving recovery of these fish, the region has made very positive strides and steady progress over the past 25 years. Between 2001 and 2004, we have seen substantial increases in 11 of 13 Columbia Basin salmon and steelhead listed as threatened or endangered. In addition, the past five years have seen the highest returns of spring, summer and fall chinook salmon since we began record-keeping more than 60 years ago.
While ocean conditions have a tremendous influence on salmon populations, a great deal of credit also goes to improvements that provide safer and quicker salmon passage at Columbia and Snake River dams, improvements in spawning and rearing habitat, predator control and improved hatchery and harvest management. These programs are designed and carried out by a multitude of federal agencies, states, local governments and tribes throughout the Pacific Northwest.
Today, adult salmon and steelhead passing upriver through the eight-dam Columbia and Snake River hydro system survive at levels equivalent to pre-dam conditions. And juvenile salmon passing downriver through the dams are moving more quickly and safely because of new fish passage devices we've installed at two lower Snake River dams and one dam on the Columbia River. More dams are scheduled to receive similar devices. Our job isn't done, but tremendous progress has been made.
Bob Lohn Northwest Regional Director NOAA
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