by Josh Gross
There's an old saying that there's no such thing as a free lunch. In economics parlance, it means that the cost is hidden or transferred somewhere else.
As our national paradigm begins the painfully slow and overdue process of shifting toward green and renewable energy, we must be sure to factor the cost of these shifts into the dialogue so that we can find the best way forward.
A big part of that conversation is dams. While they bring huge potential for hydro-electric power, they don't come without issues, especially when it comes to fish, a key component of the food chain and overall ecological health.
From an article on HowStuffWorks.com:
The Clearwater coho salmon, once abundant in the Snake River Basin of Oregon, Washington and Idaho, became extinct in the early 1960s largely due to the construction of a dam that blocked the fish's passage to and from its birthing grounds [source: Northwest Power & Conservation Council]. Besides potentially blocking access to salmons' habitats, dams may cause changes to water flows and temperatures that can devastate local populations.
That doesn't mean dams are all bad for fish. Changes in dam construction have altered the equation somewhat. But they still remain a complicated issue we must understand better to build a secure and stable energy future.
So today, why not learn a bit more about them?
Idaho Rivers United will host a free lecture on hydrology and morphology this afternoon. Dorene MacCoy, aquatic biologist for U.S. Geological Survey, will discuss pre- and post-dam rivers, and how construction techniques and human settlements have affected biological communities. After that, Pat McGrane, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation river and reservoir operations program manager, will discuss management of reservoirs on the Boise River.
The lecture runs from noon-1 p.m. at the Washington Group Plaza and is free.