Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

By Gordon Forgey
Gazette Publisher 

Joint Solutions?


January 16, 2020

Over 300 people attended a workshop in Lewiston on the Snake River dams. The meeting was designed to give various views on the future of the dams, fish runs and alternatives. The third and last of the workshop meetings was in Pasco.

A panel representing different positions gave information on the subject.

According to the report in the Lewiston Tribune, a number of comments revolved around developing a more cooperative stance between those advocating different solutions.

A theme which developed was to try to work together and balance the different needs and concerns rather than to assume that only one course of action and one answer was the solution.

After years of conflicts over the dams and other issues, this may bring some softening of positions and perhaps even some compromise among the parties historically at loggerheads.

Time will tell.

Political pressures are building for the removal of the dams. Many think that without the dams fish runs would be restored, the orcas in the sound would recover and the loss of power generation would be minimal.

Unfortunately, it is not that simple. The river system is essential for the transportation of crops to market. Replacing the river transport system would require massive numbers of trucks and trains to accomplish the same end. The surface infrastructure is not capable of handling it at this point. The environmental impact of such a change would surely result in a backlash equally as negative as many view the dams. Aside from transportation, the dams provide for clean power generation, irrigation, flood control, recreation and numerous other economic benefits that are important to the region.

Often overlooked are the many factors that contribute to declining fish runs. Predation, warming oceans and pollution well beyond the Snake River are just a few of them.

These workshops have confirmedsomething everyone knew: There is not a simple fix. This is a complex, multi-faceted situation. It will take more than one perspective to successfully and correctly address the concerns.

One attendee said that there is a lot more common ground than he thought there was. He added, “I think there are more joint solutions than I thought coming into this process.”

Let us hope.

Gordon Forgey



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