Imagine the veins throughout your body, pumping blood to keep you alive, carrying nutrients to all of your organs, oxygen to your limbs...
Imagine if those veins were blocked, the flow of blood constricted, life-giving nutrients cut off…
The life that courses through your veins would die and your body would not be able to function.
This is what dams have done to rivers, the veins of the earth, killing the flow of life that pumps through the veins of a living planet. Salmon, like the oxygen that blood carries through our bodies, are the ultimate nutrient that keeps entire ecosystems alive and feeds numerous species.
By the end of the 20th century, the dam industry had choked more than half of the earth's major rivers with more than 50,000 large dams. The consequences of this massive engineering program have been devastating, and salmon have been the ultimate victim.
In B.C. there are roughly 131 large dams, 933 large dams throughout Canada, and more than 45 000 dams over 15 ft high throughout the rivers of the world. There are more than 2.5 million dams--both publicly and privately owned--that block U.S. streams and rivers. More than a quarter have passed their 50-year average life expectancy; by 2020, that figure will reach 85 percent.
In the US, healthy salmon runs have been all but wiped out by over 75 000 large dams, with battles to remove existing dams ongoing as many of the salmon runs face extinction.
Early accounts of dam construction consist of salmon throwing themselves against the dam walls by the hundreds of thousands for weeks on end, following the ancient and unstoppable instinct to return to their spawning grounds but suddenly unable to do so. Like so many other man made projects, thought was not given to the enormously devastating impact such obstructions would have on salmon. Rather than acknowledge the possibility that millions of salmon dying upon a wall placed in the middle of a river was not a good thing, humans proceeded to dam rivers for electricity with a gluttony for power that continues to prove fatal to salmon.
Today there is no denying the devastation caused by dams and people around the world who value and cherish salmon and the rivers continue to fight government and industry on the expansion of dams while pushing for the existing dams to come down.
In Washington, US, a recent success was achieved as the largest dam removal project ever attempted got underway. The removal of the Elwha and the Glines Canyon Dams will set the Elwha River free for the first time in a century, giving the salmon of the Elwha a chance to finally migrate to the spawning grounds of their ancestors. After all but disappearing after the dam severed the river, the removal of these dams is the only chance the salmon have to come back.
Finally, the Elwha River can run free and carry the salmon through it's waters once again.
In another battle that has been ongoing in a US court, Judge James Redden, former judge presiding over the Columbia River Basin Salmon case, has come out publicly to say "I think we need to take those dams down.”
The only acceptable work being done on dams at this time is the work to dismantle them that the rivers may once again run free and the salmon return to the cycle of life they have been so long severed from.
No Compromise in the Defense of Wild Salmon!