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« It's not a Carp Problem; It's a Government Problem | Main | Help Keep America Fishing »

The Ghosts of Salmon Past


The recently failed Omnibus Bill that Senator Harry Reid and his cronies tried to bully through Congress contained an $80 million earmark for Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery. Nevada, Reid's home state, was included among those states eligible to receive grants from that pot of pork.

At, one of my favorite sites, much was made about the fact that Nevada is landlocked, far away from coastal waters. Many commenters viewed that state's inclusion as an example of either extreme ignorance on the part of politicians or blatant corruption, since salmon couldn't possibly be native to Nevada.

Actually, those commenters are the ignorant ones, sad to say. Salmon once did migrate all the way from the Pacific Ocean into rivers of northern Nevada to spawn. Dams and  other alterations to the waterways put an end to that, as they did throughout much of the West. 

What has enabled us to thrive as a species is that we harvest nature's bounty and we alter habitat through dams, irrigation, mining, introduction of exotic plants and animals, and other means. Well into the 20th century, we little realized or even considered how our actions affected other species. Brook trout, Atlantic salmon,  buffalo, elk, grizzly bears, passenger pigeons, and many other species suffered the consequences of our ignorance, along with Pacific salmon.

Today we know better. 

Knowing the environmental devastation that is possible, we don't have to mine in and around Alaska's Bristol Bay, threatening one of the world's greatest remaining salmon fisheries. Knowing that Asian carp outcompete native spcecies, we don't have to allow them into the Great Lakes, where they could destroy a billion-dollar sport fishery.

The big question now is whether we, as a species, have the character to make the tough decisions to protect our aquatic resources when ignorance is no longer an excuse.

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