How will Wahkiakum County benefit?
July 7, 2022
To The Eagle:
I am writing regarding the issue of the PUD joining Northwest River Partners (Eagle, 6/23/22). The latest study, Draft Report by Ross Strategic/Kramer Consulting firms, Lower Snake River dams: Benefit Replacement Draft Report, 6/9, 2022, is quite clear there are few to no options left to save S.R. stocks, particularly steelhead, from extinction, without dam breaching. The lower four Snake River dams were situated right on top of salmon spawning and rearing habitat, and removed nearly 140 miles of the best habitat in the Snake. Solutions such as barging fish, hatcheries and other options have been tried and have failed to stop the decline, let alone reverse it. Those dams greatly reduced salmon and salmon fisheries on the Columbia, including right here in Wahkiakum County.
My question is, What does Wahkiakum County get from joining Northwest River Partners? I see nothing that tells me that any benefits will accrue to our area. The Partners are the same people who have benefitted greatly at the expense of fisheries along the entire west coast, where the salmon migrate. I see no effort being made to find ways to compensate fishers or their communities for these losses. I should add, too, that two of the four dams in question (Little Goose and Lower Granite) already have a medium to high safety risk to the public, according to the Corps of Engineers. All of them are aging and will require large amounts of money in the future to rejuvenate them. Dams have a shelf-life, and these are approaching their pull date.
While I appreciate the PUD evaluating ways to co-operate with other agencies and organizations, I think the $5,000 membership cost in this organization deserves further scrutiny. If Northwest River Partners is saying that their dams aren’t a problem for fish, then I have a problem. Over 50 years of studies, including the latest one, point out that in fact, the dams are the major problem. The beneficiaries of the dams have succeeded at the expense of Wahkiakum County and other West Coast fisheries. What does Wahkiakum County get from joining this organization?