Salmon Without Rivers: A History Of The Pacific Salmon Crisis

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Island Press, Mar 1, 2001 - History - 317 pages
2 Reviews
"Fundamentally, the salmon's decline has been the consequence of a vision based on flawed assumptions and unchallenged myths.... We assumed we could control the biological productivity of salmon and 'improve' upon natural processes that we didn't even try to understand. We assumed we could have salmon without rivers." --from the introduction From a mountain top where an eagle carries a salmon carcass to feed its young to the distant oceanic waters of the California current and the Alaskan Gyre, salmon have penetrated the Northwest to an extent unmatched by any other animal. Since the turn of the twentieth century, the natural productivity of salmon in Oregon, Washington, California, and Idaho has declined by eighty percent. The decline of Pacific salmon to the brink of extinction is a clear sign of serious problems in the region.In Salmon Without Rivers, fisheries biologist Jim Lichatowich offers an eye-opening look at the roots and evolution of the salmon crisis in the Pacific Northwest. He describes the multitude of factors over the past century and a half that have led to the salmon's decline, and examines in depth the abject failure of restoration efforts that have focused almost exclusively on hatcheries to return salmon stocks to healthy levels without addressing the underlying causes of the decline. The book: describes the evolutionary history of the salmon along with the geologic history of the Pacific Northwest over the past 40 million years considers the indigenous cultures of the region, and the emergence of salmon-based economies that survived for thousands of years examines the rapid transformation of the region following the arrival of Europeans presents the history of efforts to protect and restore the salmon offers a critical assessment of why restoration efforts have failed Throughout, Lichatowich argues that the dominant worldview of our society -- a worldview that denies connections between humans and the natural world -- has created the conflict and controversy that characterize the recent history of salmon; unless that worldview is challenged and changed, there is little hope for recovery. Salmon Without Rivers exposes the myths that have guided recent human-salmon interactions. It clearly explains the difficult choices facing the citizens of the region, and provides unique insight into one of the most tragic chapters in our nation's environmental history.
 

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Salmon Without Rivers: A History of the Pacific Salmon Crisis

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Lichatowich is a well-known fisheries biologist who has contributed extensively to the literature on salmonid populations during his 25-year career. His book offers a biologist's view of the salmon ... Read full review

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If you are interested in the history of Pacific salmon, then this book is great. It's written by a scientist, but it reads well. It's not a comprehensive review, but rather a historical perspective of what salmon runs used to be like and some of the factors that have lead to their decline. He usually throws in a little narrative at the beginning of chapters to help you visualize the upcoming topic.
This book is important because it points out that a river we see as "natural" today with a "healthy" salmon run was likely altered by damming of rivers, logging, and mining at some point in its past. Without talking to your great grandfather, you would never know that the stream used to be sinuous, channelized, and full of clear water year round. The runs of salmon stretched from the spring until the fall and 10 fold more fish returned each year. Old trees lined the banks in some areas and 10 mother grizzlies taught their young to fish in the riffles each year. Allowing our current perception define what is natural is dangerous if we are ever to understand why salmon are declining.
If you want a more biological perspective, read Pacific Salmon Life Histories by Groot and Margolis. There is an online copy if you want to look it over.
Happy reading!
 

Contents

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Page 298 - LA. 1953. The effects of regulatory selectivity on the productivity of Fraser River sockeye.

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About the author (2001)

Jim Lichatowich has been a fisheries scientist for twenty-nine years, working for most of that time in salmon management and research in Oregon and Washington. He is a member of three independent teams of scientists investigating the salmon crisis, and has written numerous scientific and technical papers on the history, current status, and future prospects of salmon. His essays have appeared in a variety of publications including Trout magazine, Peninsula magazine, Riverkeeper, and Shirkin Comment.

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