DAMNED DAMS, SALMON & THE COLUMBIA RIVER
This spring there has been so much water rushing down the Columbia River, fed by overabundant snow packs from the Rockies to the Cascades, that a surplus of electricity is overwhelming the power grid. So instead of spilling more water over the dams, the Bonneville Power Administration decided to shut off electricity generated by the windfarms that now dot the hills above the Columbia River. They claim this measure is meant to protect salmon.
This week environmental journalist Steven Hawley returns to Locus Focus to dispute the BPA's claim. We'll talk about why spilling water over the dams is good for young salmon making their way to the ocean and how BPA policy is part of an orthodoxy of old ideas that threaten the very survival of this iconic fish.
Steven Hawley, an environmental journalist, was among the first to write about the historic agreement to tear out Edwards Dam on the Kennebec River in Maine. Since then, his work has appeared in High Country News, Bear Deluxe, National Fisherman, OnEarth, Arizona Quarterly, the Oregonian, and Missoula Independent. He lives with his family along the Columbia River. His most recent book, Recovering a Lost River, was published this spring.