Remove all dams now

Celilo Falls on the Columbia River is the site where indigenous Native Americans fished for native salmon for 12,000 years. Ninety miles east of Portland, Celilo Falls and tribal homes were inundated by the Dalles Dam on March 10, 1957. The Dalles is one of 19 dams on the mainstream of the Columbia River, preventing the native salmon from returning to their traditional breeding waters, and denying the Wyumpum Indians and, later, denying thousands of other fishermen access to this historic, natural fishing habitat. The Wyumpum Tribe was archaeologically established as one of the most ancient indigenous communities in the western hemisphere.

Before the dams were built, salmon weighing 70 to 100 pounds each were often caught by Native Americans on the Columbia River. Some Chinook salmon in those days were called “June hogs,” and were unbelievably fat and strong, compared with today’s much smaller native and farm-bred salmon. The tribes would grind the salmon into fine powder and mix the dried salmon with berries, which could be eaten immediately, or stored for up to two years. Fish bones, tails, spines, heads and gills were boiled as soup. The nutritious flesh was cut into fine fillets for immediate eating, and was also dried as salmon jerky for eating later. Salmon was regarded as one of four sacred foods at that time, filling a menu consisting of edible roots, huckleberries and chokecherries.

Since 1855, due to the construction of the 19 dams, during the course of recent history, 14 million native salmon were denied runs, runs which have fallen today to fewer than 100,000. The native fishery has been decimated by imprudent intrusions by the invading hoards of thoughtless dam-builders, and by the faulty fishing practices by the invading European peoples. The indigenous tribes only took what they needed and let all the rest go. Fishery managers have in recent years counted only three returning native sockeyes, and five returning sockeyes to the Snake River system. That is tantamount to extinction of a native species.

With the death of the salmon runs, other species, such as the local orcas, are facing catastrophic declines in population. Orcas require large amounts of king salmon in their diets, eating up to 300 pounds of fish each day. Many other species eat salmon as a staple as well — sea lions, terns, cormorants and many others all depend on a share of the salmon, as do the many recreational fishermen and commercial fishermen. All should have a share of this delectable food source, which is only possible if they exist in healthy numbers. At one time, it has been said, “you could walk across the Columbia River on the backs of native salmon.” Scientists tell us that the warming seas off the coast of the Columbia and the warming of the streams and rivers from not getting sufficient amounts of cold water from the snow and ice of the mountains, all contribute to the danger of losing all of our native salmon in coming years. Cold water is needed by the salmon in order to exist. The dams prevent sufficient cold water for healthy native salmon runs.

Historical photos of early fishermen on the Columbia River where the Megler Bridge is today show salmon that weighed 50, 70 and 100 pounds each in their nets. These salmon are no longer found.

When will we learn to be more circumspect about taking the last of the native salmon species in our rivers. When will we learn to always take just what we need, and to give the rest back to the rivers and sea? With incessant global warming warnings in our ears, removal of the dams — all of the dams — has become imperative if our remaining native salmon are to survive, and if all the other creatures that depend on salmon are to survive as well. There are many alternatives to cheap hydroelectric energy sources. The sooner we realize how critically important dam removal is, the sooner we can begin to rebuild the habitats that the few remaining native salmon species depend upon, and the sooner we can rebuild the healthy river systems needed for their survival.

Let’s not wait until it is too late. Judges and federal officials have lent their persistent guidance and have extended their wisdom to us by advising against our current “dam policies.” Let’s get rid of the dams before it’s too late.

Don’t you wish someone had awakened us in time to warn us against taking the last of those 50-, 70- and 100-pound salmon? We shall never see them again. It’s now imperative to remove the dams. It’s the right time and the right thing to do. Our children, grandchildren and their children will thank us for making this timely, essential and wise decision.

Tell your congressman, senator and the governor to please get rid of Washington’s dams now. California is removing the Klamath River dams as we speak. A wee too late for their native salmon fishery, however, which, sadly, has already been decimated and has been long declared un-fishable. They waited too long.

Joe Paliani

Ocean Park

Say ‘no’ to plastic soup

Have you heard about the Pacific Trash Heap that sits in the middle of the North Pacific Ocean? It doesn’t really exist! The truth is the Pacific Gyre does collect trash. If you go there you will see tons of trash floating in the ocean. As it breaks down into tiny particles, it stays suspended in the water down to nine feet deep. I call this the plastic soup.

You see, petrochemical companies use the byproducts of fuel manufacturing to produce tiny plastic particles called nurdles. These nurdles are about the size of a grain of sand. They last for thousands of years. These nurdles are combined with toxic chemicals to make many items we use (plastic bags, plastic bottles…), called “single use items.” When we are done with them, we hopefully throw them in the trash.

Many items we throw out never make it to the landfill. They get blown out of dumpsters or garbage trucks and then the rain washes them down rivers to the ocean. Over many years, the trash eventually collects in the Pacific Gyre. There are actually five or more gyres in different parts of the oceans, each with its raft of floating trash.

The sun helps to break down plastic trash into nurdles. The chemicals that were used to make the single use items leach into the water. The nurdles float there forever, or until eaten mistakenly by plankton. Plankton are eaten by small fish, who are eaten by larger and larger fish. Since the nurdles and toxins (poisons) never go away, they move up the food chain as the fish they are in get eaten. Since on predatory fish eats many smaller fish, the predator gets all of the poison and nurdles in all those fish. This is called “bioaccumulation.” It means the predator at the top of the food chain (humans) gets a large dose of poison and nurdles.

Scientists estimate that 90 percent of Americans have a little plastic in their bodies. Who knows how much poison we have. These poisons cause cancer, endocrine problems, reproductive problems and birth defects. It is also passed through mother’s milk to babies.

I don’t know about you, but this makes me very angry! So, what can we do about it?

1. Stop buying products with plastic wrapping.

2. Stop buying single use plastic.

3. Make sure your trash gets to the landfill.

4. Talk to the garbage people and ask them to make sure the trash doesn’t get blown away to end up in the ocean.

5. Pick up trash where ever you see it.

6. Call or write our Congress people and ask them to address this issue.

7. Call or write petrochemical companies and ask them to take responsibility for the items they make.

8. Recycle or reuse everything!

We can do this!

Nancy Bradbee

Chinook

A satirical look at gun violence

Every day you hear about our booming economy, low unemployment, everybody reaping the benefits of our rising national debt. I’m certainly as excited as anyone. I decided to look into this phenomenon a little further and found one significant change that is fueling this economic miracle.

It’s the endless stream of mass murders! It is now almost a weekly occurrence and this means almost every week, flags are lowered to half-mast for several days to pay homage to the dead. By only having to raise flags halfway, millions of man-hours of labor are saved allowing flag raisers to take on other tasks, leading to increased productivity! Only in a great country like America can the mass murder of its own citizens become the impetus for economic growth.

It’s no wonder that the Republicans stand firm against eliminating the sale of assault weapons. It could bring down our economic wellbeing in an instant. Not to mention the loss of sales to gun-makers. The more guns in the community, the more sales for gun-makers, the more murders, flags only raised half-mast. It’s a win-win situation.

Michael Goldberg

Ocean Park

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