living in Portland most of my power comes from the hydro electric dams that line the Columbia river. these dams have destroyed fish habitat and making salmon fry easy targets for predators. when i was in kindergarten i had the obvious solution: "we have to blow up the lights!" i said. when asked why i said: "because it kills salmon!"
Bonneville dam was built by the army Corp of Engineers during the new deal along with several other dams. among the many people provided work by this project was Woody Guthrie, the great American songwriter.
Bonneville's sister dam: the Dalles, backed up the river and consumed Celilo falls, historically the greatest fishing spot and culture center for the Chinookan and Sahaptan speaking Indians of the Columbia river.
with the addition of the dams, the Columbia Gorge became a textbook case of cheap hydroelectricity creating a thriving aluminum industry (an idea that has been attempted in other regions with varying success) and has kept Oregon and Washington more or less off the coal power grid. instead of thinking of my carbon footprint when i turn on the lights i think of dead salmon and gutted native culture.
as a white person, my culture has thrived because of Bonneville dam, jobs economy, low power miles. and Hydroelectric power is cheap and efficient. the question i put forward is: should the energy goal of the Pacific Northwest be the destruction of the dams on the Columbia for the sake of restoring Salmon habitat? that is probably never going to happen. but what if Portland could Power itself?
and if Bonneville and Dalles dams were gone, wh*** new problems would arise with the silted up riverbeds, until enough water came down the river to wash the silt away, fish would still have trouble making it up the river.
the dams on the Columbia were conceived with the best intentions and are put to great use, though they have done immense damage to their environments. the grandeur of these new deal projects is amazing though it is nothing compared to the grandeur of what it covered up.
so i love the dams and hate the dams and mostly hate them, but they are fact as far as i know, and i wonder how many of the ecosystems of the future will have to incorporate man made artifacts as part of their environment like the Salmon of the Columbia river have had to do.