Northwest NEWS

March 15, 1999

Editorial

Putting profit ahead of environment is short-sighted

   A frequent writer to Letters to the Editor has recently complained about various salmon enhancement projects. She dislikes projects that attempt to restore stream health by placing logs and stumps in the rivers. She longs for the good old days when children could float the streams in inner tubes, much like a Norman Rockwell painting (I wonder if she has any idea how much cow manure is in our rivers?). She then decries salmon recovery efforts as a thinly-disguised attempt to enrich commercial fishermen at the expense of local farmers. What a bunch of hooey!

   Placement of woody objects in streams is an inexpensive way to create protection for trout, salmon, and many other river dwellers. In their natural state, rivers have many such stream structures. Replacing these structures is a low-cost, low-tech way to bring about rapid improvement to streams that have suffered from poor farm practices, urban over-development, and clear-cut logging.

   Salmon enhancement projects are designed to protect wild salmon, which are not currently a significant revenue source for local commercial fishermen. There is little hope of ever bringing back the huge salmon runs we once had, but we can stop the outright extinction of some species.

   No one is attempting to punish farmers, land developers, or loggers. But we must take reasonable steps to stop those practices which are most detrimental to our environment. Why should dairy farmers be allowed to let their cows break down our stream banks and pollute our rivers?

   Why should developers be allowed to drain our wetlands, pave our streambanks, and denude our rivers? What could be more fair than to charge those who destroy and pollute for the cost of repairing their dirty work? Instead, we provide dairy farms with subsidies which encourage them to produce more milk than a free market demands.

   Those who continually put profits above our environment are not only short-sighted, but they are also self-destructive. If we fail to act responsibly at this late date, the federal government will step in and take drastic actions, which will undoubtedly be more expensive than any plans contemplated by local environmentalists.

Dave Vedder, Woodinville