Salmon Struggle to Beat Heat in Columbia River Basin
Wednesday, September 9, 2020
SEATTLE -- Salmon in the Columbia River basin have been feeling the heat -- and experts say it's pushing fish species to the brink of extinction.
Brett VandenHeuvel, executive director of Columbia Riverkeeper, said temperatures in the Columbia this summer have been above 68 degrees, a critical threshold for cold-water salmon that can lead to massive die-offs.
"If we had a spill of oil that killed 90% of a salmon run, people would be up in arms," said VandenHeuvel. "But it's happening silently because hot water is flying under the radar."
VandenHeuvel said the dams in the basin are the main cause of warmer water. The Washington state Department of Ecology has notified federal managers that the dams are in violation of water quality standards for temperature.
Jay Julius is a commercial fisherman and member of the Lummi Nation. He said high water temperatures have devastated salmon runs in the past.
The fish are an important nutrition source for Northwest tribes as well, and Julius noted they have a deep meaning for Lummi Nation members.
"We've been farmers of the rivers and farmers of the sea since, for us, the beginning of time," said Julius. "That's really who we are, and it's our identity. Culture is fish and fish is culture."
Julius said the rivers weren't created to be turned into lakes from the dams. He said he believes it's important to listen to the people indigenous to this region.
"It doesn't take rocket science to figure out the solutions to fix the wrongs that we've done, and that we've witnessed," said Julius. "I think we all need to come together and just use common sense."
VandenHeuvel added the hot water is an urgent situation, especially on the Snake River.
"Snake River sockeye are hanging on for dear life right now," said VandenHeuvel. "And dam removal of the four lower Snake River dams is necessary to save that species from extinction."
But an Army Corps of Engineers' Environmental Impact Statement released this summer doesn't recommend removing four dams on the lower Snake River to help endangered fish species.
get more stories like this via email
With Virginia's Rent Relief Program ending, a flood of eviction cases has emerged. Established during the pandemic, the program was designed to help …
As Congress debates a bill to fund climate-change solutions, Pima Community College is doing its own work to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and …
In the first six months of this year, the U.S. saw a significant jump in foreclosure filings, coinciding with concerns about the pressure inflation …
Last year, Americans reported losing a record-breaking $5.8 billion to scams, and now, the State of California and AARP are teaming up to try to …
The state has just launched the California Student Loan Debt Challenge, to let public service employees - like teachers, law enforcement, nurses…
Washingtonians are feeling the squeeze from high housing prices, but a novel concept launching in Spokane could speed up the creation of affordable …
More officials from South Dakota's health care community are speaking out in support of Medicaid expansion. Voters will decide this fall whether to …
After eight years, the Pennsylvania school-funding lawsuit is in the hands of the judge, creating a waiting game heading into the new school year…