Commentary: Removing Snake River dams won't save Orca whales

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers


Todd Myers of the conservative Washington Policy Center and a member of the Puget Sound Salmon Recovery Council says environmental groups are wrong in advocating for the removal of the state's four dams on the lower Snake River as part of the solution to save the ailing orca whale population in the Pacific Northwest.

Myers doesn't name the environmental groups, but Save Our Wild Salmon -- who outlines its thinking here -- figures to be one, as does the Center for Whale Research, which is dedicated to the study and conservation of the Southern Resident orca whales in the Northwest.

Myers believes tearing down the dams would be worse than ineffective. He writes:

Doing so would actually harm salmon and orca recovery. We don’t have nearly enough funding for critical projects in Puget Sound — the most important source of salmon for orca. Taking hundreds of millions, or billions, of public dollars away from Puget Sound to tear down the dams (for little or no benefit) would be a deadly distraction for the orca.

Activists also ignore the problem of vessel noise. Whale watch operators have been targeted, but there is no mention of Washington State Ferries, which are responsible for much of the noise affecting the orca. It is easy to demand that people in Eastern Washington tear down their dams. It is harder to deal with ferries in your own backyard.

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