Dams: To keep or to breach?, Moscow-Pullman Daily News, Jan. 19, 2017

Port of Lewiston manager, local farmer advocate for keeping four Lower Snake River Dams

By Garrett Cabeza, Daily News staff writer

Latah County farmer Joseph Anderson and Port of Lewiston Manager David Doeringsfeld are adamant that the four Lower Snake River Dams should be kept in place and not breached, as many say is necessary to save salmon runs.

The two stressed what they say are the economic and environmental benefits of keeping the dams in place during a Moscow League of Women Voters meeting Wednesday at the 1912 Center.

“The extinction of salmon and steelhead is not an option. Period,” Doeringsfeld said. “But we believe that dams and salmon can coexist.”

Doeringsfeld said there is a 96 percent salmon survival rate at each of the four dams, and that there are high mortality rates throughout the four H’s of the salmon’s life cycle, which includes harvest, habitat, hydro and hatcheries.

“There’s mortality throughout the salmon’s life cycle in all four H’s and to think that we’re just going to focus on one area – the hydro system passage – that that’s going to be the silver bullet that’s going to bring about salmon recovery, I think is pretty naive on our part,” he said.

He said a 100 percent survival rate is not even possible in a natural system without dams.

He said dams are easy targets to blame, and people should try to think of ways to reduce the mortality rate throughout each stage of the salmon’s life cycle.

“(The dams) are great big pieces of concrete sitting in these beautiful rivers, so they’re easy to identify,” Doeringsfeld said.

Costs to remove the dams would not be cheap either, as Doeringsfeld said dam breaching costs range from $1.3 billion to $2.6 billion.

Anderson, a fourth-generation wheat farmer from Genesee and a member of the Idaho Wheat Commission, said most of the wheat grown on the Palouse is exported to one of several different Pacific Rim countries, and the dams make that much easier.

“The river transportation system is a key component in serving those customers,” Anderson said.

“If we were to lose the river system, I really don’t believe that the rail system is capable of picking up that slack right now,” he added.

Anderson said the river system is a wonderful option for farmers to use in transporting their crops, and they are able to do so in a much more environmentally-friendly way.

“It’s something that is an envy in many parts of the country,” he said.


Garrett Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email to [email protected].