July 9, 2009

Sockeye return to lake after more than a century

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 Sockeye salmon, which spawn in lakes, have been absent from the Yakima River Basin for 115 years – until recently, when the Yakama Nation Natural Resources Program re-introduced sockeye at Cle Elum Lake, on the eastern slope of the Cascades near Snoqualmie Pass, east of Seattle.  According to a story in the Wenatchee World by David Lester, this marks the third sockeye run re-introduced in the Northwest. The others were on the upper Columbia River and at Lake Wenatchee.

Meanwhile, down on the Snake River, where biologists are struggling to maintain a once-nearly-extinct sockeye run, a federal judge faces a crucial decision about whether to  disable dams that harm salmon while producing about 3 percent of the region’s electricity. A recent commentary in the LA times (http://bit.ly/isB1D) by author Paul Vandevelder argues for letting the Snake flow free again, noting that its dams “do nothing for flood control, irrigate only a handful of big farms and subsidize transportation costs (at the expense of taxpayers and salmon) for wheat farmers in Idaho and eastern Washington.”

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