Saving the Salmon
Raising Public Awareness Before Its
the Ecosystem is in trouble
The Snake River salmon are heading
Does this mean no more Pacific salmon
on the menu? Not exactly. At least not now.
Salmon fishing in Alaska is still
a healthy enterprise. Pacific salmon raised in hatcheries
can be caught in season. Salmon farmed in Canada are
also available year round. But salmon farming can pollute
the waters and consume more fish protein in the form
of feed than they produce as mature salmon.
It is the wild or native salmon of
the Snake/Columbia watershed that are in serious trouble
and whose genetic heritage and survival knowledge may
The Snake River salmon is a keystone
species, which means that other species depend on
them. In fact, 137 other animal and plant species in
their habitat depend on them for life. Salmon live most
of their lives at sea storing up ocean nutrients in
their bodies. But salmon migrate home to their natal
freshwater creeks to spawn. After spawning they die
and their bodies enrich the stream ecosystem with the
nutrients they brought from the ocean environment.
Salmon are also an indicator species.
At this time, all five remaining stocks of wild Snake
River salmon are predicted to be extinct in less than
20 years. A sixth already is. If the salmon are in trouble,
the ecosystem is in trouble.
The Last 200 Years of History
When Lewis and Clark arrived at the
confluence of the Snake and Columbia Rivers in the early
1800s, the salmon were so plentiful that Clark wrote
that you could cross the river on the backs of the fish.
Today you cross the river on the spines of hydroelectric
Today, wild salmon return in numbers
that are about 10% of their historical returns. Commercial
fisheries have collapsed.
What went wrong?
Starting with the gold rush of the
1850s, the salmons decline has echoed the growth
and spread of the human population. The waves of settlers
who arrived to exploit the unlimited resources
of the Northwest all left their mark.
The Four Hshabitat
degradation (mining, logging, farming irrigation, industry),
unchecked harvesting (canneries and over-fishing),
commercial hatcheries, and hydropower
generationhave cumulatively caused the salmons
The Snake River Salmon Story Needs
to Be Told
The decline of the Snake River salmon
population is a complex, important, and sometimes contentious
issue. To raise public awareness of the problem, TerraFocus
has conceived a one-hour documentary video targeted
to air on TV to reach as many people as possible.
Our concept for the video is not only
to inform the general public about the plight of the
salmon and the condition of its river environments,
but to ask the viewer to consider how we use our natural
resources. We also want to awaken concern about the
condition of the natural world we are shaping for future
A central theme of the video is that
the condition of the salmon is an all-too-real indicator
of how human activities have degraded the ecosystem.
The story of the salmon and the Snake/Columbia watershed
points out how we use, and sometimes mis-use or even
use up, our natural resources.