Indian Country Today has provided an excellent archive of words spoken at the Elwha dam removal ceremony (9/17/11) by Bill Bradley, former Senator from New Jersey and past Presidential candidate. Part I provides insightful details into the decades of political machinations in D.C. Part II captures the amazing precedent the process sets for how to solve comparable, complicated environmental problems. Perhaps most importantly, Bill gives us orca-advocates a long list of good people to thank.
Here’s the best quote (from the end):
The reflection you see in Elwha is an image of what our country is capable of. Not only in the past. But tomorrow. And years from now. For our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. When they are calling the shots, deciding whether and how to work with each other, and defining the public interest. Here, in the success of our collective action for the Elwha, is a template for success on climate change, energy policy, oceans conservation, species protection, and the hundreds of other issues.
Right now, when it’s just us and a river waiting for the dams to come down, it may be difficult to conceive of the inspirational power of what you have done. But when the salmon return, when the dippers and the herons and beavers and the bears crowd the banks, when the life of the ocean and the mountains are joined again, when justice is done for native people, you will have here something that moves lives and inspires people thousands of miles and continents away from here. It will be compelling, empirical proof of the health and practical genius of our own democracy.
This will be the place where our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren can see the life of the planet restored. They will see the tangible power and great beauty of what you have achieved.
We are restoring honor. We are keeping promises. We are doing the right thing.
Your children, grandchildren, great grandchildren—they will be proud of you.
It will be the great gift of the Elwha—Hope.
Things are really looking up for the salmon-eating killer whales of the west coast. For the third time this fall, progress in removing dams on west coast salmon rivers has been made. First there was press regarding the beginning of the removal of the Elwha dams. Then news came of preparations for dam removals on the White Salmon (including this Yakima Herald story about trucking fall chinook above the dams).
Now coverage is emerging about the draft EIS/EIR regarding removal of 4 hydroelectric dams on the Kalamath River in California. The document was made available on September 21 and is open for public comment for 60 days (until November 21). Copco No. 1 (pictured in the AP photo below) is one of the dams that may be demolished.
Recent press, including a 9/27 piece in India Country Today Media Network and a 9/22 story in SFGate, contain potentially good news for endangered southern resident killer whales which spend some of their winter months hunting in along the west coast in the migratory path of adult Kalamath salmon. If things don’t get bogged down at the Federal level, the proposed plan may be approved by the Secretary of the Interior as soon as March, 2012.
The India Country states:
Over the past century, the number of salmon in the run has dwindled from millions of fish to less than 100,000 in most years.
And when the dams are gone, fisheries are expected to double in size.
Notable quotes from SF Gate:
Dismantling the four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River would open up 420 miles of habitat for migrating salmon…
The long-awaited environmental report on what would be the biggest dam-removal project in California history predicted an 81.4 percent increase in the number of chinook salmon and similar increases for steelhead trout and coho salmon.
The dams – Iron Gate, Copco 1, Copco 2 and J.C. Boyle – have blocked salmon migration along the California-Oregon border since the first one was built in 1909 and have been blamed for much of the historic decline of chinook and coho salmon and steelhead trout in the Klamath.
Kim Pokorny of the Oregonian reports progress on cleaning up the White Salmon River, a tributary on the lower Columbia, in preparation for an October 26 explosive removal. This is good news for future foraging by southern resident killer whales who are known to target main stem Columbia fish when foraging on the Washington and Oregon coasts.
On Oct. 26, after years of wrangling among Washington’s Klickitat and Skamania counties and the environmental and tribal groups that teamed with dam operator PacifiCorp, a hole will be blown through the bottom of the dam and about 2.2 million cubic yards of sediment will pour through and rush three miles downriver to the confluence of the White Salmon and Columbia rivers.
It will be interesting to compare the sediment and fish dynamics between this dredging and explosive technique with the more progressive removal of the Elwha dams. This is the fall of falling dams! Hurrah!
Here’s a great letter sent out today by Save Our Wild Salmon:
|This Saturday, September 17th, marks a truly historic event for wild salmon and river communities: the largest river restoration project to date with the removal of the two Elwha River dams on Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula. Here are 3 great items to check out:
1) Today’s blog post from our executive director, Pat Ford, The Elwha Project: Lessons for the Lower Snake River. Here’s an excerpt:
The Elwha project will offer lessons for the lower Snake River in many areas, but I’ll note three of importance — salmon response, economic impact, and collaboration:
- Wild salmon have responded quickly and positively to every major dam removal done so far on a salmon river; quick adaptability is in their DNA. The Elwha will provide the best lessons yet in how fast various species respond. This is important for the lower Snake, where five species of salmon and steelhead will be affected.
- Local economic benefit to Tribal and non-Tribal communities was not a primary motivator behind the Elwha campaign, but it has become a critical and closely watched feature of the project. While the rural areas around the lower Snake have different dynamics from the communities near the Elwha, the importance of jobs is just as critical.
- After much conflict over two decades, the Elwha project finally came together due to collaborations in which all parties got something important to their future. No doubt a collaborative process for the lower Snake will look very different, but the same principles can be applied for the farmers, fishermen, energy users, communities, and businesses involved.
2) VIDEO: Year of the River: Episode 1
An exciting new video was released this week about the Elwha project by Andy Maser courtesy of American Rivers and American Whitewater. Check it out here.
3) Watch the Dam Removal Ceremony LIVE.
The Elwha River Restoration and Dam Removal Ceremony Simulcast will begin on Saturday, September 17th at 11am pacific, 2pm eastern.
Find it here: http://www.celebrateelwha.com/ceremony
Stay tuned for more information as events unfold on the Elwha and elsewhere. And thank you for your continued support.
Save Our Wild Salmon
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