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Luke McClurg sent me a video with a short piece on the Topeka shiner.
It dealt with efforts between Kansas farmers and state regulators to
protect the remaining shiner populations by limiting damming of their
stream habitat.  It was troubling that the range of the fish in Kansas
has been reduced so much (over 70%), and that now the state is basically
prohibiting dams on streams with the fish (good news) and permitting
dams on those that don't presently contain the fish.  The video touts
the compromise as a real success story, but if that's their take home
message, I sure missed it.  The state put their spin on the story, but I
believe they made some decisions which are not in the best interests of
the fish.  They should have looked at the shiner's original distribution
and developed a plan to improve that habitat.  The whole reason they did
what they did was to head off federal listing of that fish, and I doubt
that their efforts will impress the feds all that much.  Agriculture is
king in most of the midwest and I feel the state's decision was

Whether it's for farming in Kansas, or urbanization in California, or
recreation in Tennessee, or for irrigation or power or whatever on the
Snake River, the native stream fauna is adversely affected by changing
habitat from flowing water to standing water.  The once massive Columbia
River salmons runs are in dire straits now largely because of dams.  The
same is true for the fishes in the Colorado River and elsewhere on our

This all said, it's naive to say that dams are not ecomically justified.
We in the Pacific NW have cheap power because of the dams on the
Columbia River (and so does California thanks to NW hydropower!).  Tens
of millions of people who are electric users, water-drinkers,
recreators, waterfront home-owners, farmers and grocery shoppers argue
that these uses justify the construction of dams.

I see the issues as being perception, priorities, and power.  Perception
is the one area in which conservation and educational organizations have
the greatest input.  We need to educate the public on the value and
plight of our native fauna and ecosystems.  Priorities are a longer-term
goal-- the public has to decide what's most important and be willing to
adjust their lives and even make sacrifices.  Power-- whoever has the
clout will enact their agenda, and it can be like a pendulum.  If you
want power you have to influence perceptions and encourage the
establishment of priorities.

Jay DeLong (who's not as smart as he pretends to be)
Olympia, WA

"Education never ends, Watson.  It is a series of lessons, with the
greatest for the last." --Arthur Conan Doyle