On Saturday, Indian elders helped dedicate the “side channel project” on the Nez Perce Homeland grounds in Wallowa. The Wallowa River, Nez Perce Fisheries workers told us, had been shoved to a side, channelized decades ago, probably in the 1940s and 50s, so that more land would be free for pasture and crops. This narrowed, straight flowing river has scoured the river bottom and eaten the banks, and in so doing destroyed places for fish to rest while migrating, and places for them to spawn. The side channel does not change the course of the main stem, but allows water to drift to and through some of the river’s old territory. In spring runoff, water will spill over the side channels and recreate marshlands, where tule and other native plants can grow. There have already been fish and lamprey in the side channel waters. Read The Article
President-elect Trump’s promise to promote coal mining and open more public lands for development of natural gas and oil is not new politics. And the Indian-centered and inspired movement to stop the Dakota Access pipeline is not the first fight by Native Americans against the Euro-American drive to exploit natural resources.
I thought about this as Nez Perce Fisheries workers joined my class (AG 301- ECOSYSTEM SCIENCE OF PACIFIC NW INDIANS) in La Grande last week to talk about salmon and treaties. They explained that the beaver and salmon had developed an intricate symbiotic relationship that had been totally interrupted by the extermination of the beaver almost 200 years ago.
They knew the biology; I could fill them in on the history.
The biology: a series of beaver dams forms perfect habitat for salmon, providing pools for growth and rest, avenues for running up river, and spurts of fast water from the dams’ depths to flush smolts downriver. Beaver dams Read The Article
Al Josephy shot me an email last week with a link to an op ed piece in the Oregonian by Paul VanDevelder. It was called “The reckoning: A looming decision on endangered salmon will set the stage for momentous battles over the future.”
“Sometime this spring,” it begins, “a federal district court judge in Portland will render a decision based on the federal Endangered Species Act that will determine the fate of two dozen endangered salmon stocks that spawn in rivers from Sacramento to British Columbia….
“Judge James A. Redden’s decision promises to be as momentous as any court-ordered environmental remedy in our lifetimes, the Dred Scott of environmental law. Of the many battles waged in the wake of the Endangered Species Act, no other beast, fish or fowl has created a more politically charged — or more expensive — fight than West Coast salmon.”
VanDevelder goes on to give a concise blow by blow of Salmon politics, which I Read The Article