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NFC: Fw: [currents] RiverCurrents Online -- Week of July 9, 1999
Due to email problems last week, it appears that the 7/9/1999 issue of
RiverCurrents did not go out. I apologize for any inconvenience!
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River News for the Week of July 9, 1999
LOGGING: Plans by the Mendocino Redwood Company to log vast tracts of
Mendocino County forestland has “pitted a prominent and wealthy San
Francisco family against a group of North State environmentalists.” The
family in question, the Fisher’s who built the Gap clothing company,
recently established the logging company, despite the environmentalist
leanings of several of the family members. In fact, Gap executive, Rob
Fisher, sits on the board of the Natural Resources Defense Council. As
reports the San Francisco Chronicle (7/5), “Mendocino Redwood says they
committed to sustainable forestry, but they are operating under Louisiana
Pacific's basic harvest plans,” which clearcut old-growth trees and
salmon streams with silt. Environmentalists fear the Mendocino logging
continue in this tradition. The company claims that in fact it is cutting
third less than did Louisiana Pacific, decommissioning old roads,
large clear-cuts, and protecting streams for endangered coho salmon.
* * *
DAM REMOVAL: The press continues to cover the issue of dam removal,
following the historical removal of Edwards Dam on the Kennebec River in
Maine last week. As reports Newsweek (July 12), “the attitude that any
flowing to sea unimpeded is a waste of water and power is under attack.”
breach of Edwards may symbolize the beginning of a breach in American
thinking on the permanence of dams. The United States is home to
approximately 75,000 big dams blocking its rivers, and removal of the
Edwards Dam could be setting a precedent for removal of some of these
especially in the west. In particular, the Army Corps of Engineers is
studying dam breaching of four dams on the Lower Snake river to save
imperiled salmon populations. The similarity between the Edwards Dam and
Lower Snake River dams is that they both block fish protected under the
federal Endangered Species Act. As reports the Cincinnati Post (7/5), not
all were happy with Edwards removal – some environmentalists criticized
deal that lead to the removal that will “result in wetlands being filled
downstream and a delay in construction of fish ladders that enable fish
get upstream.” Specifically, Bath Iron Works, which contributed $2.5
contribution toward removal, will be allowed to fill in 15 acres of
and other estuarine organism habitat.
In a related story, the state of Wisconsin “leads the nation when it
to cleaning up rivers by removing dams,” reports the Milwaukee Journal
Sentinel (7/5). American Rivers and Trout Unlimited recently released a
report of “Dam Removal Success Stories” that recognizes Wisconsin as a
national leader in river restoration through dam removal. 3 of the 12
studies highlighted in the report occurred on Wisconsin rivers. 49 of the
other 121 dam removals listed in the report also involve Wisconsin
As reports Wisconsin-based Rivers Alliance, dams harm rivers by lowering
levels of oxygen in water and altering the sediment balance of a stream.
“Removing the dam can reverse the process, lowering water temperatures,
increasing the oxygen levels of the water and enhancing the waterway as
Finally, Texas Governor George W. Bush has taken a stand in the Lower
River dam removal debate by stating that Pacific Coast salmon should be
protected, but not at the expense of dams on the Snake River.
* * *
ST. JOHN RIVER: Water in the St. John River in Maine seems to be safe, in
spite of the raw sewage that flowed from a broken Canadian municipal pipe
into the waterway, reports the Bangor Daily News (7/5). Up to 40,000
of raw sewage a day might have entered the river for the last six months,
but tests show that “the level of bacteria in the water is far below
accepted levels of contamination.” Maine officials were not informed
the dumping until last week.
* * *
SPRAWL: The threat of sprawl from Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD are
endangering clean and drinkable water supplies in nearby towns. As
the Baltimore Sun (7/4), “the threat of sprawl from Baltimore and
could eventually convert the Triadelphia and Rocky Gorge reservoirs into
algae-filled wetlands with water unsuitable for human consumption.”
According to William J. Kennedy, environmental affairs manager for the
Bureau of Planning and Design, this trend is not unique to the DC area,
“the demand for new housing in previously undisturbed areas is becoming a
national threat to drinking water sources.”
* * *
CONSUMING SALMON: The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute will be spending
$250,000 on a public relations campaign to assure consumers that the fish
they consume from Alaska are not endangered. Concerned that consumers
stop eating salmon they fear might be threatened or endangered, the
Institute wants the public to know that Alaska Salmon are not endangered.
Other messages included in their public relations campaign are that “No
salmon stock of Alaska origin is threatened or endangered; Alaska has
three dams in the entire state and more than 15,000 salmon streams; and
Alaska's seafood industry, much of it operated by owners of small boats,
the state's largest private employer.”
* * *
COLORADO FISH LADDERS: The fish ladder around a dam on the Gunnison River
near Grand Junction, CO is considered a success, reports the Denver Post
(7/6), prompting the federal government to plan a second ladder around
Highline Diversion Dam on the Colorado. Over 42 endangered Colorado
pikeminnow and 27,000 other fish have used the fish ladder around the
Redlands Diversion Dam since it was built in 1996 for $1.2 million. The
second ladder to be built on the Colorado will cost approximately $3.4
* * *
TRUAX CREEK: Truax Creek near Albany in Oregon is again judged safe after
cyanide spill from a metal- and chemical-processing plant that killed
hundreds of fish. June 24 the plant was shut down after finding dead fish
floating in the creek in which the company discharges its treated
wastewater. As reports the Portland Oregonian (7/7), “the state
of Environmental Quality linked the deaths to a concentration of cyanide
more than 20 times the lethal dose.”
* * *
SNAKE RIVER SALMON: A study to be released by Trout Unlimited this week
shows that “Wild Snake River spring and summer chinook salmon could be
extinct by the year 2017 unless steps are taken soon to stop the
population levels.” As reports a Trout Unlimited press release (7/9), Dr.
Philip Mundy, a well-respected and widely published expert on Snake River
salmon, conducted the study, which shows “very disturbing" trends that
should serve as a “serious wake-up call if not an alarm.” According to
release, a species is considered extinct when it has lost its genetic
diversity and inbreeding starts to occur.
* * *
NORTHWEST FISH: The National Marine Fisheries Service has agreed to
a formal review of the status of seven non-salmon fish species in Puget
Sound, including Pacific herring, Pacific cod, Pacific hake, walleye
pollock, brown rockfish, copper rockfish and quillback rockfish. As
an Seattle Post-Intelligencer editorial (7/3), ”preliminary evidence from
numerous sources suggests that some of the species are depleted or in
worrisome decline.” The Fisheries Service believes enough preliminary
evidence of the decline of the species exists to justify the “first step”
the process of listing the fish as endangered.
* * *
WATER RECREATION: Personal watercrafts (PWCs) such as Jet Skis are being
called noisy polluters and are under attack by environmental advocacy
across the nation. As reports the Baltimore Sun (7/3), “the National Park
Service has banned PWCs from many of its parks, and the Environmental
Protection Agency has ordered manufacturers to reduce polluting emissions
70 percent by 2008.” PWCs industry spokesmen say that their industry is
being unfairly singled out. But the machines have more horsepower than
standard outboard motor, operate at higher speeds for longer periods of
time, and emit eight times more pollution than equivalent motorboats. The
machines can also be driven closer to shore, disturbing wildlife.
* * *
KENNEBAGO RIVER: Oil or gasoline found in the Kennebago river in Maine
been traced to a leaking turbine at the Kennebago Hydro Corporation dam.
reports the Patriot Ledger (7/8), the state Department of Environmental
Protection says the turbine has been fixed and fish below the dam have
been harmed, but some fishermen claim gasoline is still leaking in the
river, one of Maine's prime rivers for trout and salmon fishing.
* * *
GREAT LAKES: A recent Newsweek report says that sprawl has surpassed
industrial waste as the leading threat to the health of the Great Lakes.
and PCBS brought by air currents from Russia and Mexico are the number
For more news, visit American Rivers at www.amrivers.org