Posts Tagged ‘Ecosystem’

Let Salmon Migrate Up the Snake River Again

January 20, 2017

Jones_070623_WA_1829_M.jpg

Fish ladder in a Columbia River Dam. Alison Jones/NWNL

By Alison Jones, NWNL Executive Director

Mitigation against impacts on salmon populations by the Columbia/Snake River dams has been deemed insufficient.  Thus, NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) has asked the US Army Corps of Engineers, NOAA and the Bureau of Reclamation to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for breaching, bypassing, or removing 14 Federal dams – including the 4 Lower Snake River Dams.  These agencies are now accepting public comments.  Given drastic declines of salmon, NWNL and many others who agree that avian predation management and “safety-net” hatcheries don’t do enough are sending in comments.  (More background info at www.crso.info.)

TO COMMENT on the Snake River Dams (by Feb. 7): Email comment@crso.info. Call 800-290-5033. Or mail letters to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, NW Div., Attn: CRSO EIS, P.O. Box 2870, Portland, OR 97208-2870.

Our NWNL Comment on the 4 Lower Snake River Dams sent to the US Army Corps of Engineers, NOAA and Bureau of Reclamation:

For 10 years No Water No Life® has studied freshwater issues in the Columbia River Basin. We’ve focused on the Lower 4 Snake River Dams since 2014. During our 4-week Snake River Expedition, NWNL interviewed 17 scientists, fishermen, commercial farmers, USF&W staff, hatchery and dam operators, power companies, historians, the Port of Lewiston Manager and the Nez Perce Dept. of Fisheries. (Our 2014 Snake River itinerary)

After 3 follow-up visits to the Snake River Basin and continued research, No Water No Life asks you to breach, bypass or remove the Lower 4 Snake River dams. Below are the Q & A’s that informed our conclusion:

 Who cares about the future of the Lower 4 Snake River dams?  Many people – in and beyond the Columbia River Basin – are concerned. So far, over 250,000 taxpayer advocates have delivered comments supporting wild salmon and healthy rivers, according to Save our Wild Salmon. That’s a ¼ million people who’ve spoken out on meaningful, cost-effective salmon restoration that could occur with the removal of the 4 costly dams on the lower Snake River.

Jones_150521_WA_2491.jpg

Lower Granite Dam on Snake River’s Lake Bryan. Alison Jones/NWNL

Is there a real threat if nothing changes? Yes. The Endangered Species Coalition put Snake River Chinook on its top “Top Ten” list last month. In his examination of the Port of Lewiston’s diminishing role, Linwood Leahy notes we are pushing the salmon to extinction, even though they were here long before homo sapiens.

Is this plea just for salmon? No. Removing the Lower 4 Snake River dams will aid recovery of wild salmon, orca whales, freely-flowing rivers and forests enriched by remains of spawned salmon carrying ocean nutrients upstream. Nature built a fine web where species and ecosystems connect in ways we will probably never fully understand – but must respect. Loss of one species affects the entire trophic cascade of an ecosystem – be it the loss of predator species (e.g., lion or wolves) or the bottom of the food chain (e.g., herring or krill).

Jones_070623_WA_1913.jpg

Salmon hatchery in Columbia/Snake River System. Alison Jones/NWNL

The unique and already-endangered orcas (aka Southern Resident killer whales) are highly susceptible to declines of Snake River salmon, per The Orca Network. The Center for Whale Research claims that salmon restoration must “include the Fraser, Skagit and Columbia/Snake Rivers, the key sources that provide the wild salmon that the whales need to survive.”

How do the dams impact the salmon? Fish biologists agree that dams have decreased wild fish populations by making it more difficult for juvenile and adults to migrate to and from the ocean. Dams become salmon-killers each summer as water temperatures become lethally hot in slow-moving, open reservoirs. Even a 4-degree increase can kill thousands of fish.  When the dams go, wild salmon can again access over 5,000 miles of pristine, high-elevation habitat which is much cooler for salmon in this warming world.  Dam removal is agreed to be the single most effective means to restore populations of wild salmon, steelhead and Pacific Lamprey. It will also restore U. S. fishing industry jobs.

Does the Pacific NW need these 4 Snake River Dams for hydro energy? No. These outdated dams produce only 3% of the region’s power – and only during spring run-off, when demand is low. The electricity the dams produce can be replaced by affordable, carbon-free energy alternatives. Local wind energy has exploded and easily exceeds the capacity of the dams — by 3.4 times as much in the Pacific Northwest.  On some days the dam authorities can’t give away the little power they generate.  In light of that, it is wrong that taxpayers support exorbitant costs of maintaining these days (estimated at $133.6 million for 2015).

Jones_150519_WA_2325.jpg

Little Goose Lock and Dam on the Snake River. Alison Jones/NWNL

Do farmers or others need the Lower 4 Snake River Dams?  No. Distinct from the Columbia River system, the Snake River barge traffic, enabled by dams, has declined 70% in 20 years. Using the Corps of Engineers’ categorization, the Snake River has been a waterway of “negligible use” for years. There is no longer any containerized, barge shipping of lumber, wood chips, paper or pulse (peas, lentils, garbanzos) from the Snake River or anywhere to the Port of Portland. The only remaining shipping is for non-container commodities, such as wheat from the Palouse, which could be moved solely by truck-to-rail, instead of truck-to-barge. For further data, please feel free to email us (info@nowater-nolife.org) for a copy of “Lower Snake River Freight Transportation: Twenty Years of Continuous Decline” (October 25, 2016 by Linwood Laughy of Kooskia, Idaho).

Jones_150519_WA_2230.jpg

Wheat fields and wind energy in Snake River Basin. Alison Jones/NWNL

Much rail infrastructure is already in place and being expanded in realization that the dams are aging, performing as sediment traps (especially with climate change) and incurring heavy repair costs to prevent crumbling. The needed and smart investment would be a few more “loop rail” terminals with storage for grain. Long term, this will provide very cost-efficient and environmentally-friendly transport. There is a growing movement supporting more rail infrastructure, and even electric rail, in the US to create an interconnected and cleaner energy future.

Jones_140511_WA_6087.jpg

Ritzville WA Train Depot and grain silos in Snake River Basin. Alison Jones/NWNL

We ask you to avoid outdated date, miscalculations and past errors.  We ask you to hire independent, informed experts for their input on the dams’ actual costs and relevance.  We ask you to make the wise environmental and economical choice. Thank you.

Alison M. Jones, Executive Director of No Water No Life®, LLC

 

“Living Shorelines” Can Fortify Our Coastlines … A Solution at Work in New Jersey’s Raritan Bay

November 29, 2016

Jones_050323_ARG_0021.jpg

A “living wall” of oysters in the South Atlantic. Photo: Alison M. Jones for No Water No Life

By Meredith Comi, Restoration Program Director of the NY/NJ Baykeeper 

After Hurricane Sandy, it was clear that coastal resiliency had become an immediate priority. Thus, Baykeeper began an innovative project to determine if a “Living Shoreline” of oysters could stabilize eroding shorelines of the urban New York-New Jersey Harbor Estuary. Perhaps they would simultaneously protect the surrounding environment, improve water quality, and create healthy aquatic habitats.

Oysters are powerful. They can filter and clean water, a much-needed service today. They can provide reef habitat for other sea creatures and improve resiliency to storm surge and erosion. Oysters once thrived in the NY-NJ Harbor Estuary — so much so that Ellis Island was previously called Little Oyster Island.  However, over-harvesting, pollution and the sedimentation of reefs resulted in a sharp population decline. Today there is no longer a sustainable oyster population in the NY-NJ Harbor area; but NY/NJ Baykeeper is working to restore them. As a bi-state restoration leader, NY/NJ Baykeeper has had restoration projects in both NJ and NY waters.

NY:NJBaykeeper_8631.jpg

“Oyster-keepers” in the Raritan Bay. Photo: NJ/NY Baykeeper

In mid-August, 2016, NY/NJ Baykeeper and its partners installed a first-of-its-kind urban “Living Shoreline” in northern New Jersey waters.  Located in the Raritan Bay at the Naval Weapons Station Earle in Monmouth County, a new 0.91 acre Living Shoreline consists of an artificial reef, using live oysters. Known as “oyster castles,” these new concrete structures are meant to provide the needed hard surface on which oysters can attach and grow. These 137 castles with about 10,000 oyster larvae can thus begin to fortify and protect the Raritan Bayshore.

Jones_111104_LA_3658.jpg

Oyster stabilization in the Mississippi River Delta.  Photo: Alison M. Jones for No Water No Life 

In 2010 the NJ Department of Environmental Protection banned all shellfish research, restoration and education activities in waters (1) deemed too contaminated or (2) “Restricted” or “Prohibited” for shellfish harvest.  Thus earlier oyster reef projects in nearby Navesink River and Keyport Harbor had to be moved. At that point, the U.S. Navy and NY/NJ Baykeeper became “Living Shoreline” partners. The U.S. Navy at Naval Weapons Station Earle, with its non-accessible stretch of shoreline, provides protected property, guidance and valuable support for Baykeeper’s oyster restoration activities.

Additional restoration activities at Naval Weapons Station Earle include setting oysters at NY/NJ Baykeeper’s aquaculture facility near the mouth of Ware Creek, and monitoring the oysters and structures in the ¼-acre experimental restoration plot to assess survival and growth.

Deployment.jpg

Deposition of “oyster castles” into the Raritan Bay at NWS Earle.

NY/NJ Baykeeper has monitored this Living Shoreline twice since its August installation, finding that the oysters grew 22mm in just 2 months!  Other organisms like sponges and algae are attached to the castles as well, further contributing to the Living Shoreline habitat.  All the castles have stayed in place, even during the rough seas when Hurricane Hermine was off shore. This is a good sign of how the castles will hold up in the dynamic Raritan Bay.

This winter, oyster growth will become slower as the water becomes cooler. Since all the oysters are far enough under the water’s surface, they will be protected should the Bay freeze over. Come spring, this Living Shoreline will be expanded, adding more castles and oysters to the system.  Meanwhile, NY/NJ Baykeeper continues its study of biodiversity  and its collection of water quality data.

For further information, please contact Meredith Comi at meredith@nynjbaykeeper.org

Charcoal burning destroys Kenya’s forests

September 5, 2014

 

Africa:  Kenya; North Rift District, Turkana Land, bags of charcoal for sale

Africa: Kenya; North Rift District, bags of charcoal for sale

How many trees are cut down to make one bag of charcoal? This illegal trade destroys endangered animals natural habitat and puts pressure on the entire ecosystem.

Fact – In Kenya, charcoal provides energy for 82% of urban and 34% of rural households. Source: http://asokoinsight.com/news/illegal-logging-charcoal-burning-destroying-east-africas-forests/

– Posted by Jasmine Graf, NWNL Associate Director

Botswana’s Okavango Delta: UNESCO’s 1000th World Heritage Site!

July 9, 2014

A place as extraordinary as the Okavango Delta certainly deserves to be designated as a World Heritage Site – and finally it is!  As #1000 on that list, it’s one of NWNL’s favorite natural landscapes and wetlands ecosystem. You can see why in the photos. It’s literally an oasis in an arid country with no access to the sea. The Okavango River swells to three times its size during seasonal flooding, attracting one of Africa’s greatest concentrations of wildlife, including many endangered species. No Water – No Life!

Related reading: https://www.iucn.org/?16018/Iconic-Okavango-Delta-becomes-1000th-World-Heritage-site

http://www.okavangowildernessproject.org/

How Wolves Change Rivers

February 26, 2014

This video, How Wolves Change Rivers, explains the “balance-of-nature“ phenomena scientists call a “trophic cascade.” NWNL also documented this on its Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem Expedition in 2008. When wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone National Park, it had a very beneficial impact on the ecosystem and on water flows. Although the video mislabels the elk as “deer”, its message is relevant.

The influence of just a small group of wolves on river systems is as magical as the cry of the wolf itself. For a sense of being on the Yellowstone River in the Missouri-Mississippi headwaters, do look at our Yellowstone Species photo gallery.

– Posted by Jasmine Graf, NWNL Associate Director

Ethiopia: Dams threaten Indigenous communities, Omo Valley, Lake Turkana

February 21, 2014

A Cascade of Development on the Omo River by International Rivers, with photos by Alison M. Jones, 2014 (11:19).

This film outlines how Ethiopia’s new Gibe Dams will cause a 70% water-level reduction over the next 3 years – and thus drastically impact Ethiopia’s Omo River, its Lake Turkana terminus in Kenya, and ½ million residents in this Rift Valley’s Cradle of Humankind. These hydro-dams – and the new commercial agricultural plantations they will irrigate – threaten the livelihoods of local indigenous tribes and their ecosystems. The Gibe Dams will also imperil the Omo-Turkana Basin’s migrating birds, fish and crocodile populations, and the scant amount of wildlife left.

The film pleads that water flows be managed so as to maintain the sustainability of the Omo River, Lake Turkana, and today’s indigenous communities who represent 6000 years of self-sustaining flood-recession farmers and fishermen. For more information on the Omo River :
 Download the factsheet on Gibe III Dam by International Rivers.

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS FROM NWNL:  For many millennia, the Omo’s annual 60 foot floods from the highlands’ monsoonal rains have supplied nutrient-rich silt and irrigation for the crops of the Mursi, Suri, Karo, Hamar, Nyangatom, Dassanech and other
unique indigenous cultures. In a 2008 NWNL interview…. Read the full story here.

Full Wolf Moon Tonite! – HOWL!

January 15, 2014
USA:  Montana, Bozeman, "Cheyenne," rescued Grey wolf (Canis lupus)

USA: Montana, Bozeman, “Cheyenne,” rescued Grey wolf (Canis lupus)

Tonight’s full moon is known as the Full Wolf Moon. This name dates back to Native American tribes in the Northern and Eastern United States. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, “Amid the cold and deep snows of midwinter, the wolf packs howled…”

The wolf is a keystone species in our watersheds. This oft-maligned canine plays a critical role in naturally balancing water quantity in upper and lower river basins. Visiting the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in 2008, No Water No Life witnessed wolves protecting our water supplies and preventing downstream destruction and degradation in the Missouri-Mississippi watersheds.

The presence of wolves along riverbanks keeps heavy browsers (such as elk and moose) back in the cover of forests. But – without the wolf, riverside vegetation is quickly devoured. Without bushes, sedges and grasses, riverbanks quickly destabilize and erode. Without riverine willows, beavers can’t build dams. Without beaver dams and riverside vegetation, nature’s moderating water–retention system becomes ineffective. All these changes exacerbate the increase in floods and droughts downstream these days.

Let’s take advantage of nature’s free gift of wolves and howl with them in the full moon tonight!!!

2nd Annual ‘Mara Day’ to raise awareness of degradation of Mara River basin ecosystem

September 5, 2013

On September 15th, stakeholders from Kenya, Tanzania and surrounding communities will come together to celebrate Mara Day to focus on the health of the Mara River. Informative activities and presentations aim to foster discussions on water quality, pollution, deforestation, drought and other environmental and social challenges facing the MRB and its sustainable development.

More than 1.1 million people live in the MRB and a wealth of flora and fauna depend on its resources. It’s no coincidence the event takes place during the famous wildebeest migration in which the perennial Mara River becomes the destination for the world’s largest mammal migration of almost 2 million wildebeest and zebra. For more information about Mara Day: http://allafrica.com/stories/201307261515.html?viewall=1

The Mara River would seem to be pristine and unfettered as it runs from Kenya's highlands to Tanzania's Lake Victoria shores...

The Mara River would seem to be pristine and unfettered as it runs from Kenya’s highlands to Tanzania’s Lake Victoria shores…

But its very critical source, The Mau Forest in Kenya, has been suffering devastation for years as industry – and local people needing wood – have cut down this forest.  The forest’s retention of water during the seasons of heavy rains plays a crucial role to the entire watershed.

The Mara River, fed by waters from the Mau Forest, nurtures iconic plains species that bring lucrative tourism and jobs; commercial and subsistence farmers; fisherman; and the ecosystems of its Lake Victoria terminus.

And perhaps most important, the Mara supplies drinking water to its inhabitants and their livestock, yet it can no longer be guaranteed to be clean, healthy water.

In NWNL’s expedition covering the length of the Mara River and in our interviews with many stakeholders and stewards en route, it became clear that education is the key.  Those who live in the Basin now must learn the upstream-downstream consequences of their water and forest usage, and why it is critical for tomorrow and future tomorrows to adjust their habits and practices to ensure the sustainability of livestock, flora, fauna and their own communities.

View NWNL’s video “The Mau Forest, Source of the Mara River” from the 2009 MRB expedition here.

NWNL expands its watershed coverage: This blog post discusses the Amazon’s Belo Monte Dam

August 27, 2011

The No Water No Life website will soon expand to include information collected by other conservation photographers and scientists regarding freshwater issues in river basins other than our project’s 6 case-study watersheds. This will allow our website to be a go-to source for fresh-water issues worldwide, not just in our 6 American and African case-study watersheds.

As a disclaimer, NWNL will post such information garnered by other groups in acknowledgement of the universality of our concerns over the management of the freshwater resources. Since NWNL has not researched, visited nor consulted with scientists studying these other ecosystems, NWNL cannot endorse nor guarantee the accuracy of information gathered by the following sources.

Pending this expansion of NWNL coverage on its site, this NWNL blog space will be used for such purposes. The international attention on the effects of building the Belo Monte Dam in Brazil’s Amazon is just one example of extended coverage we are starting to offer. The impacts surrounding the Belo Monte Dam are comparable to those of two NWNL case-study watersheds. Displacement caused by dams was experienced by British Canadians, First Nations and US communities in the Columbia River Basin, and may be forced on the half-million pastoralists in Ethiopia and Kenya hoping to stop construction of the Gibe Dams on the Omo River.

Kayapó Chief Raoni speaking with tribal leaders over the Belo Monte Dam. Photo: Antoine Bonsorte/ Amazon Watch (CC)

As Aug. 22 was the International Day of Action to Defend the Brazilian Amazon, here are a few resources for the issues, actions and activists involved in the Belo Monde Dam project. One of the NGOs focusing on Belo Monte is International Rivers, a colleague of NWNL in its documentation of Ethiopia’s Omo River.

Amazon Watch is also actively behind the international protests against the proposed Belo Monte Dam on Xingu River. These organizations and others, including Conservation International, claim that this dam, recently approved by Brazil’s president, will threaten ecosystem and the extinction of the Kayapó people. Belo Monte Dam, the world’s largest hydro-power project underway, thus represents a defining environmental struggle to protect free-flowing rivers, forests and rights of all indigenous cultures.

Others involved include “Avatar” director James Cameron, who created “Pandora” about the battle to stop this dam on the Xingu River, which he sees as one of the great tributaries of the Amazon River. His involvement stems from the Amazon rainforest parallels to his Avatar film. Sigourney Weaver has visited the Kayapó people also out of concern for the Belo Monte Dam and 60 others intended for the Amazon. Cristina Mittermeier, past President of the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP), was part of the protests on Aug. 22 in Washington DC at the Brazilian Embassy and commented on this on Facebook. She is also an advisor to No Water No Life.

Conservation International has created a YouTube documentary “The Kayapó Nation: Protectors of the Amazon” (3:03 min) on Kayapó resistance to save their rainforest homeland and culture, and the global importance of the forests endangered by the proposed hydro-electric dams.

%d bloggers like this: