Monday, February 16, 2015

Would Things Be Different if Wild Salmon Were Represented in Congress?

In the olden days, after my father, Colonel Bill, retired from the Air Force, we moved from the Mojave Desert to the Lewiston-Clarkston valley in the southeast corner of Washington state. We lived two blocks from the Snake River. And, as far as my father was concerned, two blocks from Heaven. Hunting. Fishing. Hiking. Camping. It was a rural paradise.

The Snake in those days was free flowing. That first summer as my new friends and I were hanging out at the beach in Clarkston, I got my first lesson on the Snake. "It's dangerous as hell," said Kris. "If you don't know what you are doing or are drunk and amazingly stupid, you'll drown. And, they will find your sorry ass in Pasco." 

"It doesn't look so scary," sez I. "It's not even very wide." 

"Keep thinking that. Oh, and by the way ~ see you in Pasco!"

That was in 1963. What I didn't tumble to until much, much later was that my father had been hired to be the new manager of the Port of Clarkston. 'Course there wasn't much of a port then. Oh, sure, barges came and went from the Potlatch Mill in Lewiston but pretty much it was not much of a "port".

All that changed with the construction of the three Lower Snake River dams. The Army Corp of Engineers built the dams, bought up the houses along the river, bulldozed them down, reworked the shore and the mighty Snake went to slack water. Sure it was wider; sure the beaches were nicer; sure the running path along the dike was kindah nice but, where was the Snake? And, as the years went by, where were the steelhead and wild salmon?

Fast forward to 2005: I was in the Valley to take care of my dad during the last years of his life. One nice day, I took him to the last straight razor barbershop in the Pacific Northwest! It was a small, old shop with a row of straight backed chairs along the wall opposite the barber chairs and stacks of old issues of Guns and Ammo haphazardly tossed in the corner. Sitting in those chairs were half a dozen 1000 year old lentil farmers. And, as things are wont to do, the talk turned to politics and the Valley. Having lived in the Valley for nearly 50 years, I knew this was my cue to shut-the-hell-up!

And, I did. And, then! As I was dozing while listening to the mummer of voices, one of those 1000 year old lentil farmers said, "There wouldn't be a single steelhead in the Snake if it hadn't been for the Boldt Decision." I sat bolt upright.

Whaaaaaaaaaaat? Weren't these the same guys who fought tooth and claw for the dams and vilified any caution expressed by environmentalists. This was staggering. What happened? How was this possible?

I'll tell you what happened. These self same men witnessed the change in the river. They had lived to see that the change signaled the loss of a life they thought would last forever. For generations from father to son and now grandfather to grandson, these men had marked the seasons to the returning steelhead and wild salmon. The construction of the Lower Snake River dams doomed a way of life. These men watched as fewer and fewer fish traveled the Snake to spawning grounds 1000 miles from the sea. They finally saw the results of barriers to the health of the river and the returning fish. Were the dams worth it? Was there no value in a free flowing river teeming with fish?

Then, Saturday, I received an email from my friends at The Lewiston Morning Tribune is conducting a poll to ask residents if they would support removal of the Lower Snake River dams.

Go to the website, read the article and vote if you care about Wild Salmon!

The gist of the article? As Jim Waddell said, “Being a program manager in the corps of engineers for a couple of decades, you know when something is not right. You can’t always come up with the right numbers. You just have to say, ‘This sucks, I don’t buy it.’ I had no recourse, I just said, ‘It’s not convincing economics and it’s not convincing biology.’ I said, ‘I recommend we continue with breach planning and prepare to do it.’ ”
His advice was ignored . . . " 

Read the article for the full story. Then vote for Wild Salmon in the poll.

Wild Salmon might not be well represented in Congress, but we, as citizens, have an obligation to speak our minds; to speak up for Wild Salmon and everything they represent. 
Remember, everything Wild Salmon need, our children need ~ clean air, clean water and a safe place to call home. 

Speak up for the future. Vote for Wild Salmon.

Grateful every day that people are working to save Wild Salmon.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

"Bastards Had Brothers . . ." Yup, That About Sums it Up!

A message from our spokesfish, Dr. Salmagundi and me:

A lot has happened since The Great Wild Salmon Run was formed. It was born one New Years Eve at the home of my dear friends, Catharine Gallagher and Phil Freeman. Catharine and Phil and I have been friends since my run for US Congress in 1998. Catharine, the massively talented artist, designed my campaign website. While it is true, I did not win, I was befriended by kindred souls. 

During that pivotal New Years, as we sat around the fire with our feet propped up on tuffets, we chatted about the campaigns and the frustrations; how difficult it was/is for environmentalists to make inroads. No friends in Congress. No friends in the White House. No friends at Fox News. Out-spent. Out-gunned, literally. Talk about baby steps. Every success was achingly hard won. And, always felt tenuous.

As a designer, I often think in visuals. As I tried to give Catharine and Phil my view of what we were up against, I was reminded of the opening scene from Romancing the Stone. As we join Joan Wilder writing her romance novel, we are introduced to her heroine, Angelina, and the villain, Grogan, as we hear her voiceover setting the scene:

Grogan: What's it gonna be, Angelina?
Joan Wilder: [voiceover] It was Grogan: the filthiest, dirtiest, *dumbest* excuse for a man west of the Missouri River.
Grogan: So, you can die two ways, angel: quick like the tongue of a snake, or slower than the molasses in January.
Joan Wilder: [voiceover] But it was October.
Grogan: I'll kill you, goddammit, if it's the Fourth of July! Where is it? Uhh. Get over there!
Joan Wilder: [voiceover] I told him to get out, now that he had what he came for.
Grogan: Not quite, angel.
Grogan: Take 'em off. Do it! Come on!
[Angelina kills Grogan by throwing a concealed knife]
Joan Wilder: [voiceover] That was the end of Grogan... the man who killed my father, raped and murdered my sister, burned my ranch, shot my dog, and stole my Bible! But if there was one law of the west: Bastards had brothers, who seemed to ride forever.

Truer words were never spoken.

While it is true that bastards do have brothers and that the anti-environmental uber-rich do run in tassel loafered packs, there are heroes out there.

Meet Alexandra Morton.

Alexandra is a marine biologist who has worked tirelessly for over 40 years to protect whales and wild salmon, to educate politicians and policy makers on the perils of farming Atlantic salmon in the waters off British Columbia, to rally the people and put pressure on the government to curtail fish farming.

Farmed fish is filthy. It imperils the oceans.

I've been following Alexandra since the formation of the Great Wild Salmon Run. Her blog posts paint a grim picture of the health and long term survival of wild salmon stock. We can help.

Here are links to her website:

If it's true that bastards have brothers, Alexandra is up against some formidable foes. We can help Alexandra save Wild Salmon by supporting her.

Let's get behind Alexandra and help her raise awareness by raising money to pay for public service advertising.

As she says ~ "Please consider a donation, no matter how small,
and tell your friends, do not eat farmed salmon. 
Wild salmon feed the trees that make the oxygen 
we breathe ~ our planet needs them."

Every day grateful to find passionate, committed people
working every day to save the world.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Welcome to The Great Wild Salmon Run

They just want to come home . . .

For millions of years, that’s what they’ve done ~ come home. This handsome, mysterious fish is born in cool, fresh water hundreds of miles from the sea in small tributaries. They would come home to the exact spot of their birth after spending much of their life at sea if that exact spot were still there. Unfortunately, the combination of physical barriers, poor water quality, industrial pollution, agricultural run-off and destruction of wild salmon habitat has combined to keep the Great Wild Salmon from getting home.

The Great Wild Salmon have run the streams of the Pacific Northwest for millions of years. Their cycle of birth and death has tied us to the sea. Their remarkable journey has nourished the forest, fed its wild life and for the last 12,000 years defined the cultural heritage of our region. The Great Wild Salmon have graphically shown us the fragility of our planet and given voice to the old saying, “we all live downstream” as everything finds its way to the ocean.

In the past, the Great Wild Salmon runs were so great and the fish so prolific, we thought the abundance of this great fish would last forever. Sadly, that is not the case. “For the five species of Pacific salmon (chinook, chum, coho, pink, and sockeye), it is a long, strenuous, desperate race against time, with every obstacle taking its toll.” The last fifty years of poor environmental stewardship and appalling habitat destruction has brought several Great Wild Salmon species to the brink of extinction.

Our spokesfish ~ Dr. Salmagundi
Is there any good news in all of this? Yes. The good news is that many, many people and dozens of groups are actively working to protect the Great Wild Salmon. It’s a complicated task. And, in these difficult economic times, it’s a costly one.

The Great Wild Salmon Run is a nonprofit formed to raise money for groups working to save the Great Wild Salmon. The Great Wild Salmon Run is a perfect combination of original public art and private auction with proceeds going to benefit nonprofit groups working on issues related to the Great Wild Salmon ~ protect, restore, educate, support.

                          You can help. Join us.