December 14, 2017
According to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, in the 1950s and 1960s, 40,000 B-run steelhead crossed the Washington Waterpower dam near the former Potlatch mill at Lewiston. Sawmill workers were known to catch steelhead on their lunch breaks. That was before the four lower Snake River dams existed. After dam construction, steelhead numbers plunged. In 1997, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared these fish in jeopardy of extinction. In 2017, fewer than 1,000 wild B-run steelhead will pass Lower Granite dam and head up the Clearwater River, a decline of 98 percent.
During the past 20 years, electricity rate payers have provided Bonneville Power Administration billions of dollars to help Snake River salmon and steelhead runs recover. Recently, BPA raised its electricity rates another 5.4 percent for a total of 33 percent over the past few years. The agency states that 33 percent of its cost of production is mitigation for the damage the hydro system does to fish and wildlife. Our local electrical providers pass this cost on to us.
None of the four threatened or endangered Snake River salmon or steelhead species is on a path to recovery. Just 159 Snake River sockeye salmon returned to Idaho in 2017.
Since BPA is not getting our money illegally, perhaps this is technically not a case of fraud, though it feels like we are being defrauded. The word scam refers to “a dishonest scheme” or a “swindle.”
We are all being scammed.
Bonnie Schonefeld Kooskia, Idaho