This week a Federal judge has stepped into the local salmon debate in a big way. Judge Haggerty has ordered the Sandy River Fish Hatchery to significantly change their operating procedures, described as "arbitrary and unlawful", to adequately protect wild salmon populations. While few studies have been conducted on the impact of hatchery salmon on wild populations, those that have indicate that increases in hatchery populations are correlated with decreases in wild salmon. Why is this happening now? Because in 2008 a pair of dams were removed in an attempt to increase the area and improve the quality of salmon habitat along the river. Unfortunately, removing the dams also removed the barriers between the hatchery and wild populations, fostering unanticipated inbreeding and competition. I think everyone can agree that protection of wild species needs to take precedence over the introduction of farmed species, so why is this being adjudicated at the Federal level? Because in Oregon, salmon is gold and hatchery fish are what feed the coffers. But I do not believe that it is time to give up on the wild salmon. I think they have some fight in them yet. Let's help.
Last year I wrote an essay about the salmon for the Northwest Perspectives Essay Contest. It won third place. You can read it here: