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Celilo Falls

Oregroanian Mar 8, 2007 page B7: Pat Ford the head of an activist group to save salmon wrote, ”I don’t belittle the past and present benefits of the Dalles Dam. But today Celilo’s falls and fisheries, sights and sounds, places and uses, would deliver something more valuable than electricity. If we could reach back and have that decision to make again, it would likely be different.”

Emotional words. If history has shown us anything, emotional decisions are most often mistakes. The basis of his plea is on the issue of saving salmon. The truth is that Celilo falls and the natives that romantically fished there killed more salmon that the Dallas Dam. Consider that every fish taken by the noble Native Americans carried 5000 eggs that never got to the breeding grounds.

Celilo falls was a hellish place for salmon. A major threat to their existence. To pass this fish killing machine the salmon had to hurl themselves at is churning cataracts. They expended great amounts of energy blindly launching themselves through the air into what they hoped was a pool of water. More often than naught they hit a solid basalt surface. The blow to their head killed many, that floated down stream and fed predators. A glancing blow caused extensive damage to the fish, even if he made the many headlong blind jumps successfully and reached the top of the falls, the wounds inflicted killed the fish before getting to the breeding grounds.

Mr. Fords closing remark, “That the surge and sustenance of salmon is dying for us now, and dead for our children 50 years from now.” Is certainly true, but the fault of this death is not on the dams, but on the parents who produced the children. Fifty years from now, the worlds population will be 20 million people. Consider than when the salmon flooded the waters of the Columbia there was only 2 million people on the planet. Unless humans can stop the flood of children, salmon will not be the only casualty of overpopulation, the future holds little for mankind.


By A Bialystock

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