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Welcome to The Seattle Times' online letters to the editor, a sampling of readers' opinions. Join the conversation by commenting on these letters or send your own letter of up to 200 words

July 28, 2009 at 4:00 PM

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Snake River dams: What would removing them do?

Posted by Letters editor

Removing dams, bringing back recreation

Editor, The Times:

I am a professional fly-fishing guide on Washington's Olympic Peninsula. I read Lance Dickie's recent column on the Snake River dam removals ["Reservoirs of uncertainty behind the Snake River dams," Opinion, July 24] with great interest.

As the column pointed out, the promises of a great economic boon to the region, as a result of building the dams, never materialized. Much of the river traffic engaged in shipping and barging comes at an unrealistic cost. The dams themselves have done more to harm the environment and the economy than they have ever done to contribute anything positive to the domestic life of the region.

The benefits of removing these dams are virtually guaranteed; a free-flowing river would bring recreation, paddling, river trips, scenic adventures, birding, camping and fishing back to the region.

All of these activities have one great thing in common: They do not damage the quality of the water or the environment, and they take nothing away but memories. Though this may seem a small contribution, recreational angling alone counts as a multibillion-dollar contribution to our economy already.

Add to this the benefit of increased cash flow and social culture to the Lewiston and Clarkston communities and the potential for a vast improvement in the fishing life of the tribal stakeholders, and it is hard to understand why the politicians are dragging their feet. Dam fools!

-- Bob Triggs, Port Townsend

Dam closure will be a win for both economy and environment

I liked everything about Lance Dickie's column on the changing dynamics in the Inland Northwest concerning salmon recovery and the fate of the lower Snake River dams -- except his characterization that this is another debate pitting the environment against jobs.

I am a fishing guide and a store manager at Creekside Angling Company in Issaquah. My livelihood depends on healthy fish populations. These fisheries depend on a healthy habitat.

Just like any other creature, salmon and steelhead exemplify the essential connection between environment and economy. It is most encouraging to see local leaders in Lewiston and Clarkston taking the initiative to push for the resolution of this dogged issue.

Whether the dams stay or go, our region needs to work together right now to restore healthy runs of salmon in a manner that benefits and serves any affected communities.

-- Brett Wedeking, Kirkland

Follow example of neighbors in salmon recovery

After what I consider nearly two decades of failures, it is hard not to be discouraged about Columbia Basin salmon-recovery efforts. Lance Dickie's column, however, gives me new hope at a time when change really does seem afoot -- except perhaps here in Washington state.

Idaho's senators have expressed support for convening stakeholders to tackle this issue. In Oregon, Sen. Jeff Merkley and Gov. Ted Kulongoski have said the same, and President Obama has recommitted the federal government to science-guided policymaking.

There is, however, a deafening silence coming from our congressional offices here at home. Pulling together the various competing stakeholders around a single table to work together to craft a lawful, effective and responsible recovery plan strikes me as something out of a Politics 101 course.

To Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell in particular: We need you on board and as part of the solution, not part of the problem.

-- K. Robert Johnson, Renton

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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