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Critics Of Snake River Dams Say It's Time To Remove Them

<p>The Ice Harbor dam on the Snake River in Pasco, Wash.</p>

Jackie Johnston


The Ice Harbor dam on the Snake River in Pasco, Wash.

The issue of breaching four giant dams on the Snake River to help endangered salmon runs has percolated in the Northwest for decades, but the idea has gained new momentum.

Following renewed political pressure to remove the dams, people who oppose the structures gathered Oct. 3 on the Snake River in up to 200 boats. They unfurled a giant banner that said, "Free The Snake."

"The groundswell that is occurring right now to remove the four dams is like nothing I've seen since 1998," said Sam Mace, director of an anti-dam group called Save Our Wild Salmon.

The dams create vast reservoirs that make it possible for Lewiston, Idaho, 450 miles from the Pacific Ocean, to operate as the farthest inland seaport on the West Coast. Farmers, shipping companies and other dam supporters fiercely defend the structures as key players in the region's economy.

Critics say the dams kill vast numbers of salmon and steelhead, and do not provide enough benefits to compensate for the losses of those iconic fish.

Copyright 2015 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Nicholas K. Geranios