Posts Tagged ‘king salmon’


Comments on Coyote Island Terminal Permit

Cascadia Wildlands submitted the following comments on the Coyote Island Terminal Permit Application (Port of Morrow):

Click below to view the PDF file.  

CascWild – Comment on APP0049123 Coyote Island Terminal Permit Application


Suction Dredging…Sucks

By Bob Ferris
My access point to my career in the conservation field came originally from fish.  I caught my first trout on the Eel River in northern California while my family was on their way to visit the 1962 World’s Fair in Seattle.  As we were on our way north, my mother grudgingly allowed me to fish for 15 minutes—no more.  And on my premier cast with my older sister’s telescoping metal pole and an ancient JC Higgins reel, I felt that first electronic jolt that changed my life.  (Yes, this was a salmon egg catch, but I did not know any better at the time.)
That memory is golden to me and the thought of anyone taking any action that would rob someone of a similar moment rankles me no end.  That’s why the notion of some yahoo sticking a 4”-6” inch motor-driven suction hose into the hard bottom or gravel of a trout or salmon bearing stream and muddying the water literally makes me just a little angry.  And that ire only rises a little higher when I learn that these “modern 49ers” seeking flakes of gold in the silt they are spraying around are being egged on and legislatively supported by some modern day equivalent of snake oil salesmen hitting the KA-CHING button with each $8900 suction dredge they sell.  
It’s an old game where the “pick and pan” salespeople make the real money preying on the suggestible and greedy.  And part of the pitch seems to be that mucking up rivers flowing through public lands is an honest-to-goodness, Don’t-Trend-On-Me, All-American right.  Poppycock!  Suction dredging sucks and the sooner we all gravitate to that point of view, the better for all concerned.  (Okay so the dredge dealers will not be happy, but I can live with that quite comfortably, Thank You.)
Doing the “gold fever” math: Proven placer claims yield in the vicinity of 0.025 ounces per yard of material processed or roughly $45 per yard.  Recreational suction dredgers can move up to 25 cubic yards per year before being classified as commercial operations.  So if they are lucky and gold prices hold they can gross $1125 annually in Oregon.  When the cost of the machine and gear as well as other costs such as permitting, trailer registration, gas, and maintenance are factored in it becomes crystal clear that the “gold strike” here is for the equipment sellers rather than these hopefully prospectors.   
Suction dredging is not a “right” nor is mucking up the water for the rest of us—particularly in streams and rivers that run though public lands or hold imperiled species such as Coho and Chinook salmon or bull trout.  We and many others who have worked hard to clean up and protect waterways throughout Cascadia see only one solution to this issue:  An all-out ban on suction dredging in the salmon-bearing water systems of Cascadia.  The practice is banned in California and restricted in Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and Idaho.  We think it is high time that all of us who would like to see the return of vibrant salmon and steelhead speak up on this issue with one voice.  
Please check out our suction dredging and high banking page, sign our petition to the governors of Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Idaho, and pass this all along to others 

Pacific Salmon–Sea Going Golden Retrievers


Pacific salmon are a little like seagoing golden retrievers.  Only instead of drool-slimed tennis balls, they retrieve nutrients lost from the land and gobbled up by an assortment of plankton (free-floaters) and nekton (swimmers) in the oceanic water column.  Their dogged inland migration over millennia and suicidal sacrifice for their offspring in large part helped make the Northwest’s coastal river valleys the agricultural powerhouses enjoyed by humans for tens of thousands of years.
Yet as perfect and as beneficial as this salmon nutrient retrieval machine was, we changed it in a handful of generations.  We essentially brought it down to its trembling pectoral fins in a good portion of its historic eastern Pacific range.  How?  We threw grit in its gears every time we removed the filtering function of riparian vegetation and increased the silt-sliding imperviousness of our urban hardscapes.  We shattered the great engine’s virtual pistons with each dam we built and every tributary we compromised with corrugated culvert.  And we caused it further insults by mistaking its most essential inner-workings as a refuse removal system for all that was deemed waste and no longer needed.
As we accelerated growth during the last century, the system that loyally supported agriculture and forestry through the ages ironically became the victim of both and their associated economic growth.  And we in our nearly infinite folly and hubris cast off the bounty of this perpetual and low maintenance larder through our poor stewardship.  Somehow, we thought it easier to work harder and get a lesser quality result.  
The whole tragic process has left us poorer by far from the loss of effortless and nearly perpetual fertility and a dependable food source to the diminished recreation opportunities and the indescribable, Chinook-sized hole left in our collective heart.  Think I am full of hooey on this last point?  Look at any stretch of creek or river and think how that waterway is changed in a fleeting second by a leaping Coho or running Humpy.  I don’t care if you have the fishing gene or not, doesn’t everyone’s heart pump harder with each electric tail flip and silver flash observed?
Is this Pacific salmon situation isolated?  Certainly not!  John McPhee wrote with a sense of awe and loss about the economic and social importance of the once plentiful Chesapeake shad in his book The Founding Fish.  Perhaps a chocolate Labrador in this analogy, the fish that made early America economically possible was cast aside much like the Pacific salmon in favor of more destructive and short-sided enterprises.  We see books like McPhee’s or even Steinbeck’s Cannery Row, and seem not to learn or embrace their lessons.  And my friend and environmental writer Tom Horton often writes and talks about the march of disappearing fish through time and how each successive generation seems to settle for fewer fish and ultimately a little less wildness.  
What if we suddenly got smart?  What if we suddenly realized that the economic and social benefits of restoring and keeping Pacific salmon viable and vibrant everywhere within their historic range meant more to us than exported timber, parking lots, fish farms, dams, recreational gold mining, and over-fertilized and pesticide-bathed crops?  What if we decided to be the first generation to reverse this awful fish trend and capitalize on the positive example being set on the Elwha?  We at Cascadia Wildlands think it is time we pursued this path with vigor and purpose.  Long live the King (salmon)—everywhere!
Please work with us to Save Our Wild Salmon Heritage.  
Bob  Ferris
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