Comparing 1894 to today


In 1894, almost 120 years ago, a federal report was published having the title "Investigations in the Columbia River Basin in Regard to the Salmon Fisheries; The Salmon Fisheries of the Columbia River Basin." The author was Marshall McDonald, the United States commissioner of Fish and Fisheries.

This report contained a map titled "The Natural Limits of Distribution of Salmon in the Columbia River Basin."

It's interesting to see that the area in and around Walla Walla, apparently including Mill Creek and the upper Walla Walla River, was shown on this map made in 1894 to be not included in the natural limits of the distribution of salmon.

Another 1890's-era federal report, titled "A Report Upon Investigations in the Columbia River Basin with Descriptions of Four New Species of Fish," by Charles Gilbert and Barton Evermann, mentions regarding Mill Creek downstream of Walla Walla that "we could not learn that salmon are ever taken in this stream."

On the lower Walla Walla River, this report mentions August water temperatures of 70 degrees, and the water being "rather muddy."

It is an interesting exercise to compare these 1894 descriptions to those noted in 2012.

Gene Spangrude

Walla Walla


tpeacock 3 years, 1 month ago

I have to agree, this letter reminds me of some head scratching regulations I encountered soem years back. At the time, I worked on a bridge replacement (over the Touchet, just above where it joins the Walla Walla) out in Touchet back in 95. We were closely monitored by inspectors, and had to be extremely careful about stirring up even small amounts of silt when working along the river banks as it would harm the fish that were protected by regulations. Yet, there were a couple of instances when we experienced those summer time gulley washers, and the river rose 5-10 feet, and was chocolate brown for the next three or four days. I'm certainly all for protecting the environment, keeping fish habitat robust for many reasons, but as with many things that are regulated/controlled, those in charge or the ones authoring the regulations seem to go way overboard, or have some keen (??) insight how things should be and how things were in the past, yet their version of the past many times in not based in fact; more often personal beliefs cloud their judgement. Hmm, sounds as if the govt. is involved??


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