National Geographic & 60 Minutes

ARTICLES: 
APRIL 2001 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE

     As many of you may know the National Geographic Magazine did a article about the Columbia River.  The April 2001 magazine contains the 31 page article which is called  " A River Dammed "  
( Tamed for power, 
stripped of salmon: What next for the Columbia River?)  this article was in the works for over two years that I am aware of.   I know Jim Richardson the photographer who took the 
" SAVE OUR DAMS " picture that is in the article.    Yes I am biased and this is probably as good as I could of expected from the National Geographic Magazine.  From my perspective the facts are are one sided and pro dam breaching and was probably ment to complement the fantasied Al Gore administration and dam breaching agenda.    I would encourage you and others to help set the record straight by responding to their forum.    I am also disappointed  that they did not include the SAVE OUR DAMS  website in the reference links as they said they would.  They must of run out of room listing Save Our Wild Salmon www.wildsalmon.org which is listed in the reference links.

" A River Damned" ( Tamed for power stripped of salmon: What next for the Columbia River? )
 
 

April 2001, National Geographic.

For your information this picture was taken through the dirty windshield of my 1983 Ford pickup.  

There are irrigation parts on the dashboard and this truck served as my service truck and had 420,000 miles on it at the time of this picture.

 

National Geographic visits Basin  --  April 3 2001, The Columbia Basin Herald.
     Ephrata farmer Tom Flint is a fairly familiar face in and around the Columbia Basin.  Now, the Grant County Public Utility commissioner and founder of the Save Our Dams Coalition might be recognized world wide after being featured in the April issue of the National Geographic magazine.  The 32- page article entitled " A River Dammed, " delved into dams and salmon issues on the Columbia and Snake Rivers.  "Actually, it gave me heartburn, " said Flint about his National Geographic notoriety.  "  I should be honored and elated, but because of the content of the article, I'm having a hard time getting there."  Flint, who has dedicated hours and hours to the coalition he founded prohibiting the removal of the four Snake River dams, said he didn't know where to start over his exasperation with the article.  Quoted as saying " Dams make this country great," Flint said that is about the only great part of article.  That, and the other local farmers mentioned; Bill Watson and Randy Hafer.

     The Columbia was tamed for power, certainly, but not stripped of salmon," Flint said.  " That implies that there are no salmon in the rivers but there are now more fish in the river now than there have been in years."  During the past two years, Flint met several times with National Geographic representatives and was photographed hoisting a  huge "Save Our Dams" banner across a sky-high wall of baled hay.  Flint was told by photographer Jim Richardson that for everyone photographic used by the magazine, 40,000 were taken and rejected.  Flint is not stranger to farming issues,  He moved to the area from Nebraska when he was 6 years old.  At 51, he is a fifth-generation farmer.  He and his wife Cathy have three children.  " We are and active family farm corporation, " Flint said, describing his operation.  Three years ago, Flint became acutely aware of the salmon and dam issues in the state.    His interest was sparked by PUD rate increases, most, he said, mandated by the Endangered Species Act for salmon restoration.

    " The environmentally challenged don't realizes dams are not killing the salmon, " Flint said,  " Once you start studying the issue, you see this isn't the case. "  Flint said his experience working on saving the Snake River Dams will be an asset to the residents of Grant  County.  " I have worked and been challenged by just about all of the interests that want to remove dams, " he said.  The Save Our Dams coalition has gathered over 100,000 signatures.  Currently 52 out of 80 county commissioners representing 660,000 people in the state of Washington have signed the petition and have passed a resolution which opposes breaching the Snake River Dams.

     " Some Washington residents, such as those in Puget Sound, do not associate the projects to their way of life.  There is no other source of clean, renewable power that is environmentally friendly other that that derived from our dams."  It's the sentiment he had hoped to impart to National Geographic writer Fen Montaigne, but said he didn't think the message " got through."   Reviewing the NG article, Flint began his criticism with the very first paragraph, which states 10 to 16 million salmon swam upstream to their spawning grounds every year during the trek of Lewis and Clark.  " That is already wrong," Flint said.  "  Those of Lewis and Clark's expedition ate dogs and horses.  Even Indians didn't have a big stock of salmon during that time.  It's all recorded in their journals.  If there were so many salmon, why were they eating dogs?"  Flint explained that salmon, like all things in nature, are cyclical.  It could of been the bottom of the salmon cycle that year when Lewis and Clark's expedition passed through, leaving few salmon in the river.  What ever the reason, there couldn't have been an abundance of salmon in the Columbia during 1806, Flint said.

    "That information is from the environmentally challenged," he said.  Flint commented on National Geographic's take on the Snake and Columbia River dams, how they are used and how much power produced for the Northwest.  The Rivers, Flint said, are useful tools for people and a necessary habitat for fish.  But the rivers are not gods,  He refutes the religious idea, Pantheism, that worships the earth as a god.  " Followers of Pantheism want to return the earth to its state before it was inhabited by man, or pre-Columbian ( before the arrival of Columbus )," Flint said.  The NG also mentioned the environmentalists who would like to see the West turned back to the days of Indians and roaming buffalo.  " It's not going to happen, " Flint said, " We've all got to learn how to survive together.  Nothing has got to go down -- not dams, not river barging or irrigation.  We can save the salmon along with the rest."

    Flint suggests doing the web site www.saveourdams.com , for more information.    Even the web site was a sore spot with Flint.  " The National Geographic told me that they would have a link from its web site to www.saveourdams.com .  They have reference links to save our wild salmon, but not to save our dams," Flint said, feeling betrayed.   The commissioner said he will concentrate on local issues, his family farm, the PUD and " put the whole National Geographic incident behind me."

 

Ephrata farmer talks dam, salmon issues  -- April 03 2001, The Columbia Basin Herald.
Tom Flint had hoped by having his name and picture featured in the April  National Geographic magazine, the association between salmon and dams would be settled.  In other words, dams are not killing the salmon.  Flint, and Ephrata farmer, was contacted by the well-known magazine editors two years ago, after they learned he founded Save Our Dams, a pro-dam coalition dedicated to prohibiting the removal of the four Snake River Dams.  The story, however, did not meet with Flint's approval.

   For all that was said in the National Geographic article on the pros and cons of dam breaching, Flint was most irritated with what is said caused the salmon problems -- dams.  "It ( the article ) eludes that dams are the problem, " Flint said in a recent interview.  " Yes, they are part of the problem, but a very, very small part of the problem."  Flint said the National Marine Fisheries Service has information on the mortality breakdown of returning salmon.  Of 10 spawning salmon, six would be harvested by commercial fishermen or netted commercially.  Two will go to tribal nets.  One goes to predators.  " That leaves one to have the chance to return and spawn,"  Flint said. restarting the fisheries report.  " And this all happens be fore the salmon encounter any dams."  Flint said the salmon population began dropping off more that 150 years age.  Declines in the salmon level are not a new problem, he claims.  In the 1850"s hatcheries were first implemented to modify commercial impacts, Flint said. and hatchery fish have been around for decades.  That is another issue Flint had with the National Geographic article, the implication made that hatchery fish were less viable.  Hatchery fish may be more susceptible to predators, Flint said, but that is because of how they are fed at the hatchery -- a system that is being corrected.  " At hatcheries, the fish are fed on the surface which programs them to come to the surface to eat and leaves them more susceptible to predator birds.   New management techniques mimic the feeding patters of traditional fish by introducing  food from the bottom and sides of the pools making hatchery fish more resilient to predators, " Flint said.

    Another detriment to hatchery fish migration down river are the dams turbines.  National Geographic stated in its article that 8 to 10 percent of migrating smolts ( hatchery released 4-inch salmon) are killed going through the dams.  The turbines explode the smolt's swim bladders as they go though the power houses at high pressure and speed, it stated.  Flint begged to differ with that information, as well.  " The latest scientific data shows that Snake River dams and their fish bypass systems pass 96 to 98 percent of all salmon safely down stream.  Dams and hydro turbines are not giant fish blenders like a lot of people would like you to believe.  They turn at about 86 revolutions per minute, the speed of and average bicycle wheel, Flint said.  Newer fish - friendly turbines are being installed on the Snake River dams and the remaining Columbia River dams are in the process of installing them, Flint said.  Grant County PUD is now in the process of changing out old turbines for those that are fish friendly.  

     Another big issue, Flint had with salmon management, as issue not mentioned in the National Geographic article, is Rice Island.  Rice Island is a man - made Island near the mouth of the Columbia River.  It was created as habitat fro migrating ducks and geese,  but the ducks and geese never used it, Flint said.  However, the Caspian Terns are abundant on Rice Island.  It is a man -- made hotel for predators," Flint said.  Salmon coming down the Columbia become kind of drunk-like for a few days as they make the transition from fresh into salt water.  During this transition time, the salmon smolt are vulnerable and become easy picking for the Caspian Terns.  " The Island should be destroyed so salmon smolt will have a better chance of survival into the ocean,"  Flint said, " but once someone wanted to do that, the Audubon Society and every other environmental agency threw a lawsuit on them.   Citing another man -- made situation that depleted salmon which was also not mentioned in the National Geographic article, Flint took issue with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.  Beginning in the 60's with the construction of the Snake River dams, Flint said the Idaho Fish and Game Department purposely poisoned  high populations of spawning salmon from that tine into the mid 80"s.  " They wanted to have pristine trout fishing areas, believing it would be better for the Idaho economy.  Because salmon negatively impact the trout habitat, the salmon were destroyed,"  Flint said, adding that it may take along time to replenish those salmon losses.

     Flint agreed with the article's statement that salmon can't migrate up river past the 550 - foot high Grand Coulee Dam.  However, the article did not say that three hatcheries have been built by the federal government to offset the loss of the salmon migration Flint said.  These hatcheries raise different varieties of salmon including Kokanee, the only fresh water salmon, which are released behind Grand Coulee Dam.  Flint said it is easy for environmentalist to criticize the construction of Grand Coulee Dam while overlooking the Pacific Northwest's dependence on it -- and Canada's.  "We have a river agreement with Canada and they get a percentage of power from Grand Coulee supplies, " Flint said.  Flint also gets tired of the implied idea that farmers, like himself, receive such a good deal for irrigation, " as if a farmer is getting an undue subsidy," Flint said.  Farmers pay the federal government on the loan for the irrigation components required to construct the system to deliver water for farming.  The National Geographic article said that farmers only pay 10 percent of what other citizens must pay for water.  " The article sounded like we are taking advantage of the the payers and essentially getting the water for nothing and that is just not true," Flint said.   Flint, a sometimes frustrated farmer, claimed fish, farming and dams are coexistent.  Today, there are more fish going downstream and the water cooler that before there were dams constructed on the Snake and Columbia Rivers," he said.  " With all these improvements, the in-river fish migrations survival is now better them before dams were constructed on the Snake and Columbia Rivers."

     " Drought conditions, a water shortage -- even with the water low the fish will survive only because of the reservoirs behind the dams," he said.  Flint also had a problem with the National Geography's statement that the four Snake River dams only produce 5 percent of the Northwest's total power and only one of those dams is used for irrigation, irrigation 20 farms.  " It depends on how you visualize what 5 percent is.  That 5 percent power production amounts to enough power to supply all of Seattle, Montana or Idaho.  That is not an insignificant amount of power production," Flint said.  Flint explained that the Snake river dams are also peak power producers, meaning that from 6 to 8 a.m. and from 5 to 8 p.m.  when households use peak amounts of power, the dams then generate 3,000 megawatts of power compared to only 1,280 megawatts during the other times.  " Those high demand times are when brown - or black - outs occur.  Peaking power generates 12 to 15 percent more power during those times so as to prevent that from happening," Flint said.  " Those 37,000 acres of irrigated farmland raise enough produce annually to feed half a billion people."

    The harvest is barged,  The Snake River dams provide a channel used for barge shipment that is inexpensive in comparison to trucking or rail transportation.  Flint said that the trucking and the rails system isn't sufficient to take on the job of transporting all that goes up and down the river.  "More grain hopper cars would have to be manufactured and new railways constructed.  " But 700,000 more trucks would have to be added, traveling over the existing highway system, to cover the gap left when river transportation was gone, " he added.  Barging is a transportation relied on in places other then Eastern Washington.  " Wheat from Montana, Idaho, North and South Dakota, is shipped down the Snake River to Portland for export," Flint said.  ' Over 40 different states benefit directly or indirectly from power generation or from the barge transportation system on the Snake River.

 

60 Minutes

Highlights from the following article: 
"Since the dams went in, the salmon have been disappearing".  In fact, the runs were depleted long before the dams went in (the first main stem dam was Bonneville, in 1938), and the all-time highs measured came after all eight dams were built.

The "16 million" whopper comes from the Northwest Power Planning Council, which put forth a report exaggerating the historical peak of salmon by roughly a factor of two to help extract more money from the dam operators.

This is the big lie that has built the Salmon Recovery Empire: that the salmon are endangered and will disappear and, "under the Endangered Species Act, the government is required not to let that happen".  In fact, there are no endangered species of salmon, only endangered runs in some rivers.  And nothing in the Endangered Species Act compels protection of salmon runs; it is a political choice masquerading as "law".  

NMFS biologist Jerry Harmon told NW Fish letter in May that the Sixty Minutes team declined his invitation to film the bumper crop of salmon that were coming home. "They said they didn't want to confuse the issue," Harmon said.  Propagandists never want to confuse the issues with facts.

NMFS biologist Doug Arndt of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says "the turbines kill about half the fish that go through them".  The truth?  Turbines kill perhaps 5% of the fish going through them, so Sixty Minutes exaggerates by a factor of ten.  I know Mr. Arndt, and while I wouldn't characterize him as a heroic defender of the dams, he doesn't tell lies that big.

 As is its custom, Sixty Minutes relies upon leftist environmentalists for the whopper punch lines.  After quickly brushing off other sources of salmon mortality, Ms. Sughrue parades Idaho environmentalist Ed Chaney before the camera to assure viewers that "only one thing threatens the salmon with extinction, however, and that's the dams".  The show does show pictures of the tribal gillnet harvest, but says that the Tribes "are allowed to catch endangered salmon" "under the terms of a Treaty".  Of course the Treaties say nothing about endangered salmon; they permit the Tribes to catch salmon "in common with the white settlers", which was intended to mean under the same rules.  Even the Federal government does not contend that direct Tribal take of listed fish is legal, preferring the fiction that the Tribes (and others) target unlisted fish, and only "incidentally" take listed fish.

 Of course, what the government spends is not collected from the nation's taxpayers, but from enormous and ever-increasing surcharges on electricity generated at the dams; the assertion that "your dollars pay", applied to a national television audience, is another big lie.

"Ironically," says Ms. Stahl, "the well-intentioned barging may interfere with the salmon's homing instinct, which is essential to their survival."  That hypothesis was refuted decades ago, in solid research that even the conservation biologists no longer question, having shifted their attack to imaginary "latent mortality" from transportation--the "I was abused as a smolt" hypothesis.  Surface collectors, an efficient means of passing salmon over dams with far less water than spill, are slandered by claiming that a single one costs $200 million--roughly ten times the actual cost of a high-priced prototype.  (By contract, spill with almost no fish benefits cost the Bonneville Power Administration $600 million dollars from April to August of this year alone.)  

The bottom line, according to Sixty Minutes:  "after two decades of spending, the results are dismal."  Last time I looked, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers actually still had the stones to claim, correctly, that there is a reasonable chance that its mitigation efforts had prevented far larger salmon losses during an episode of the worst ocean conditions for salmon in 500 years.

 When you run into a stream of whoppers this big, you begin to wonder what the motive is.  It could just be standard brain-dead reactionary liberalism.  Still, enormous effort is underway to turn the American West into a Nature preserve, more than just what you'd expect from witless do-gooders.  

We will probably never know why Eastern powers seem compelled to lie about the Snake River Dams.  But if we continue to spread the truth about the dams, dam removal will remain no more than a noxious fantasy.

 

News from the Front #38:  Nov 30 2000, by James Buchal. 
( Thanks James )

Sixty Minutes, Goebbels, and the Snake River Dams

"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it people will eventually come to believe it."
Attributed to Paul Joseph Goebbels (Hitler's propaganda minister).

     On November 19, 2000, Sixty Minutes finally aired its curiously-titled segment entitled:  "Fish Fuss".  Lesley Stahl, the "journalist" who narrates the production, emits one whopper after another.  She begins with the biggest lie of all:  "Since the dams went in, the salmon have been disappearing".  In fact, the runs were depleted long before the dams went in (the first mainstem dam was Bonneville, in 1938), and the all-time highs measured came after all eight dams were built.

     But the lie is repeated, over and over.  Ms. Stahl declares that " the salmon population has plummeted, from 16 million at its peak, to just over one million today."  The "16 million" whopper comes from the Northwest Power Planning Council, which put forth a report exaggerating the historical peak of salmon by roughly a factor of two to help extract more money from the dam operators.  Ms. Stahl even says that the salmon were "once so plentiful that it was said that you could walk across the Columbia River on their backs".  There probably were streams in the Pacific Northwest literally carpeted with salmon, particularly near the spawning grounds, but no one with a firm grasp on reality could believe that about the Columbia River.  If Ms. Stahl, who visited the Columbia River in the filming of the segment, bothered to think about it, even she could figure that out. But it is apparently not her job to think, merely to mislead.

    The thinking person is Karen M. Sughrue, the producer of the segment.  She is a master propagandist of the Goebbels school, framing the issue as "whether a series of dams along the Columbia and Snake Rivers should be torn down in order to save the endangered salmon".  This is the big lie that has built the Salmon Recovery Empire: that the salmon are endangered and will disappear and, "under the Endangered Species Act, the government is required not to let that happen".  In fact, there are no endangered species of salmon, only endangered runs in some rivers.  And nothing in the Endangered Species Act compels protection of salmon runs; it is a political choice masquerading as "law".  

     Ms. Stahl briefly mentions recent run increases, which she attributes to ocean conditions, and then declares:  "But it's still not nearly enough to get the salmon off the endangered list".  This is probably true, since the roads to endangered species listings are one way streets:  no amount of fish and wildlife is ever enough for fish and wildlife bureaucrats.  NMFS biologist Jerry Harmon told NW Fishletter in May that the Sixty Minutes team declined his invitation to film the bumper crop of salmon that were coming home. "They said they didn't want to confuse the issue," Harmon said.  Propagandists never want to confuse the issues with facts.

      After painting the picture of a Pacific Northwest without salmon, the next job is to slam the dams.  Ms. Stahl reports that biologist Doug Arndt of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says "the turbines kill about half the fish that go through them".  The truth?  Turbines kill perhaps 5% of the fish going through them, so Sixty Minutes exaggerates by a factor of ten.  I know Mr. Arndt, and while I wouldn't characterize him as a heroic defender of the dams, he doesn't tell lies that big.  

     As is its custom, Sixty Minutes relies upon leftist environmentalists for the whopper punch lines.  After quickly brushing off other sources of salmon mortality, Ms. Sughrue parades Idaho environmentalist Ed Chaney before the camera to assure viewers that "only one thing threatens the salmon with extinction, however, and that's the dams".  The show does show pictures of the tribal gillnet harvest, but says that the Tribes "are allowed to catch endangered salmon" "under the terms of a Treaty".  Of course the Treaties say nothing about endangered salmon; they permit the Tribes to catch salmon "in common with the white settlers", which was intended to mean under the same rules.  Even the Federal government does not contend that direct Tribal take of listed fish is legal, preferring the fiction that the Tribes (and others) target unlisted fish, and only "incidentally" take listed fish.

     Having blackened the dams with Germanic efficiency, Ms. Sughrue focuses the balance of the program on exciting opposition to them based on her major theme:  the nation's taxpayers are being ripped off by "staggering" expenditures to save fish that are not working, instead of the supposedly simple and effective alternative of just ripping out the dams.  "The government spends a bundle", says Ms. Stahl; "billions have been wasted, and that's the real tragedy here".  Of course, what the government spends is not collected from the nation's taxpayers, but from enormous and ever-increasing surcharges on electricity generated at the dams; the assertion that "your dollars pay", applied to a national television audience, is another big lie.

     Well-proven means of mitigating what effects do arise from dam operations, such as barging fish, are also targets of the big lie strategy.  "Ironically," says Ms. Stahl, "the well-intentioned barging may interfere with the salmon's homing instinct, which is essential to their survival."  That hypothesis was refuted decades ago, in solid research that even the conservation biologists no longer question, having shifted their attack to imaginary "latent mortality" from transportation--the "I was abused as a smolt" hypothesis.  Surface collectors, an efficient means of passing salmon over dams with far less water than spill, are slandered by claiming that a single one costs $200 million--roughly ten times the actual cost of a high-priced prototype.  (By contract, spill with almost no fish benefits cost the Bonneville Power Administration $600 million dollars from April to August of this year alone.)  

     Ms. Stahl expresses open scorn at efforts to protect salmon other than dam removal, saying "the measures are so elaborate, the observer is left to wonder, who thought this up?"  Even scientific research on salmon, according to Ms. Stahl, "gives new meaning to the term government waste".  Last time I looked, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers actually still had the stones to claim, correctly, that there is a reasonable chance that its mitigation efforts had prevented far larger salmon losses during an episode of the worst ocean conditions for salmon in 500 years.

     When you run into a stream of whoppers this big, you begin to wonder what the motive is.  It could just be standard brain-dead reactionary liberalism.  Still, enormous effort is underway to turn the American West into a Nature preserve, more than just what you'd expect from witless do-gooders.  

     Who are these people who think because they fly out once a year, they have any business telling us how to run our land?  Who is Karen M.  Sughrue?  Her footprints on the Internet describe her involvement with the Council on Foreign Relations, a shadowy group that figures large in the musings ofconspiracy theorists.  We will probably never know why Eastern powers seem compelled to lie about the Snake River Dams.  But if we continue to spread the truth about the dams, dam removal will remain no more than a noxious fantasy.

© James Buchal, November 30, 2000

You have permission to reprint this article, and are encouraged to do so. The sooner people figure out what's going on, the quicker we'll have more fish in the rivers.

 

For those who want to know the real story behind 60 Minutes, please follow this link to " The 60 Minutes Deception ".  http://www.dxmarket.com/worldnetdaily/products/V0001.html

 

60 MINUTES " FISH FUSS " FEEDBACK, 
PROGRAM AIRED NOV 19 2000.

I would encourage you to let 60 Minutes know how you feel.  You can contact them at:

60 Minutes
524 West 57th St.
New York, New York 10019

Phone:
(212) 975-3247

To order a transcript, call:
(800) 777-TEXT

To order a videotape, call:
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