Saving A Resource -- U.S. Army Corps Of Engineers Didn't Act To Preserve Salmon

As director of a coalition of over 40 commercial fishing, sport fishing, and local, state and national environmental organizations working together to restore this region's endangered wild salmon, I would like to commend The Times, and especially reporters Bill Dietrich and Marla Williams, for last month's special report on the salmon crisis. Instead of scape-goating sea lions and the weather, as so many other recent salmon stories have, your special report presented a clear and accurate assessment of how decades of dam building, habitat destruction and poor management of the fish themselves have created this crisis.

Every citizen and elected official in the region ought to memorize and embrace the 10-point plan presented for saving salmon which focuses on protecting habitat from logging and livestock, fixing or removing dams that are obstacles to salmon migration and managing hatcheries and harvest in ways that promote naturally spawning wild salmon.

As good as your special report was, Ross Anderson's May 13 column demands a response. While Canada indeed deserves credit for protecting Fraser River salmon from hydroelectric dams, Anderson's implication that we in the U.S. willingly and irreversibly traded Columbia and Snake River salmon in favor of cheap electricity and agriculture is just plain wrong. Congressional records clearly show that when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recommended building the dams, the Corps repeatedly assured Congress and the American people that the dams could be built without harming the salmon.

And when Congress last visited the issue with the passage of the Northwest Power Act in 1980, the Congress found that the region could rebuild Columbia Basin salmon runs and have an economical and reliable power system. Congress created the Northwest Power Planning Council to develop a plan to do so. The crisis for Columbia River salmon is primarily the result of the Corps of Engineers' failure to implement the Power Planning Council's strategy for salmon.

Hopefully, Mr. Anderson and the officials in charge of the Army Corps of Engineers will read and learn something from your special report. Michael Rosotto, Executive Director, Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition Seattle