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for people who care about the West

Dirty Snake

 

Thank you for the tremendous article on the lax rules and pollution of the Snake River in southern Idaho ("Idaho's Sewer System," HCN, 8/4/14). I live near the infamous Simplot fertilizer plant in eastern Idaho and have personally witnessed algal blooms in American Falls Reservoir caused by phosphate leaching from the plant and the agricultural fields.

Sometimes the effects are subtle, such as the loss of biodiversity in the reservoir. I used to see huge swarms of gnats, but I haven't for years. Larval gnats are what migrant shorebirds feed on in the mud. I've been counting these Arctic migrants every week on a two-mile stretch of mudflats, every summer for 20 years. For the last nine years, the numbers and diversity of shorebirds has decreased by 90 percent. These long-distance migrants vote with their wings.

Chuck Trost
Pocatello, Idaho