Dave McDonald, who authored a Nov. 27 guest opinion piece for the Tri-City Herald, says removing four dams on the lower Snake River is an ineffective way to aid starving orcas because “the geography doesn’t work.” Yes, Southern Resident orcas frequent the Salish Sea in the summer, but he seems to forget that whales don’t stay in one place — they swim.
Years of the government’s own monitoring and prey sampling confirm that from January to April, these orcas regularly forage at the mouth of the Columbia River.
The oldest Southern Resident orca (“Granny”) is over 100. Each year, Granny returns to the mouth of the Columbia because she remembers a time before the lower Snake River dams were built when the basin produced millions of salmon — including the fatty spring Chinook the orcas depend on. These spring fish arrive at a time of year when the whales are often nutritionally stressed, and are key to the survival of the whales.
Salmon and orca advocates are focused on the lower Snake River dams because re-opening unimpeded access to the cold, clean waters of central Idaho would help restore the fish — and provide a badly needed nutritional boost for the last 80 orcas.
Giulia Good Stefani, Mosier, Ore.