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Tribes doing most for salmon, feds least

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Letter - From the July 30, 2001 issue by Pat Ford
Dear HCN,

I cringed at the photograph of myself on your June 18 cover, but I guess it is churlish to blame HCN for the distance between my self-image and how I actually look. So on to substance.

It was a good article on the complex intersections of salmon, dams, energy and money. I'd like to underline two points. First, I am quoted as saying that 95 percent or so of this year's ocean-bound young salmon are going to die due to terrible migration conditions. This is indeed our fear, but there is still time to bring that number down. The Bonneville Power Administration and other federal agencies can still get more water into the Columbia and Snake, and return to the spill program (spill passes salmon over dams) they themselves adopted in December and promised to follow. When salmon are endangered, every reduction in dam kills is important. The feds' cover story is that the high mortality is an act of God, due to drought. In fact, it is an act of federal policy - and federal policy can change it.

Second, the article barely mentioned the folks doing the most, right now, to help salmon in this critical year, while also joining in the longer-term work to change politics and structures. Those folks are the treaty tribes of the Columbia and Snake rivers. When the day comes when salmon are restored in the Snake and Columbia, the salmon themselves will deserve the most credit, and the tribes will come next.

Pat Ford
Boise, Idaho

The writer is executive director of the Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition.

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