Having being informed since the early 1990s about Western rivers being “too straight” for providing proper salmon habitat, it was truly refreshing to read in the Aug. 14 Union Bulletin about a river in Idaho being “too crooked” for being salmon habitat and that it therefore must be “de-meandered.”
This situation in Idaho appears truly unique and hopefully will become a catalyst of much future academic research into determining the breakpoint between the condition of having “too little” and “too many” curves in the river. I can’t recall ever being informed that a river must be “straightened,” “shortened,” and the gradient “steepened” in order to be ultimately better for salmon habitat; rather it’s been just the exact opposite needing to be done for improvements.
On the one hand, Idaho County Commissioner Rockwell’s thoughts quoted in the article are likely right on, that “it’s a massive waste of taxpayer money.” But on the other hand this effort should provide a means of employment for people; which should be a positive result to also be ultimately derived from the project’s completion.
We can hope that when all is accomplished on the Crooked River, “the anglers will be pleased” as others have stated in the article about the project.
Intensively studying this aspect of the project from the angler’s perspective also should provide an excellent unique academic research item that we hope will be capitalized upon and pursued.
These two references provide interesting starting points for further reading on Columbia River Basin salmon issues:
Chapman, D.W. (1986). “Salmon and Steelhead Abundance in the Columbia River in the Nineteenth Century,” Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, 115:662-670.
Stone, Livingston (1878). The Salmon Fisheries of the Columbia River, United States Commission of Fish and Fisheries, Part IV, Report of the Commissioner for 1875-1876, Appendix A, Inquiry into the Decrease of the Food-Fishes, Appendix B, Inland Fisheries, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.
Even in the 1870s, years before the large dam construction era, water temperatures greater than 68 degrees Fahrenheit were being recorded and people were wondering why the salmon catch was decreasing.