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Salmon Recovery and Fisheries Management: The Case for Dam Breaching on the Snake River Open Access

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For centuries, Pacific salmonids have been migrating up and down the Columbia and Snake Rivers. Unfortunately and for various reasons, most notably the erection of numerous dams along these rivers, the size of several populations of Pacific salmonids has dramatically decreased in the past several decades. Currently all five species of Snake River salmon are listed under the Endangered Species Act, and no holistic extinction prevention or recovery plan exists. This paper examines four policy alternatives to determine which would constitute the most comprehensive, holistic, and timely recovery plan for these endangered Snake River salmon. This recovery plan should not only prevent extinction of the listed salmon populations, but should eventually result in the delisting of these species. After a review of the four alternatives and an examination of the political climate surrounding this contentious issue, it is concluded that the four dams on the Lower Snake River must be breached. Further, certain elements from the aggressive nonbreach alternative should be implemented in conjunction with dam removal to ensure that each of the 4-H's (habitat, hatchery, harvest and hydropower) are addressed such that salmon are given a better chance at recovery.

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