The Aug. 14 Guest Opinion of David Doeringsfeld, manager of the Port of Lewiston, said, “Record salmon and steelhead returns demonstrate the success from fish passage improvements over the past 20 years.” He, NMFS, BPA and various industries like to speak of “record” fish numbers. Such talk is based largely on recent returns of hatchery fish, not ESA-listed wild salmon and steelhead.
The best measure of the numerical trend of adult wild spring chinook salmon in the Snake River basin is a comparison of predam (late 1950s) and recent returns of fish to the Middle Fork Salmon River and Chamberlain Creek, both free of hatchery supplementation. That measure, based on redd counts and downriver fishing rates, shows an 80 percent reduction in adult returns.
Doeringsfeld touts survivals at the lower four Snake dams. He refers to only “across-the-concrete” survivals and ignores in-reservoir losses. He fails to explain why 50 percent of juvenile salmon smolts that migrate through the hydro system die between Lewiston and Bonneville Dam tailrace.
Doeringsfeld doesn’t explain why commercial barge traffic from his port facilities has plummeted, making it much harder for the Port of Lewiston and the Corps of Engineers to justify maintenance of navigation facilities and dredging. His opinion article should be considered disingenuous at best.
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Don Chapman, McCall