Once in a while my husband and I like to watch a good documentary. Recently we stumbled upon DamNation on Netflix and settled down with our salted-truffle popcorn and kombucha-red wine spritzers for a view. The film was gorgeous, with beautiful nature shots as well as historical photos that added a depth of character. We were surprised as well by the statistics in the film: about 80,000 dams over three feet exist in the United States today. Of all those dams, only about 2,540 produce hydropower (1).
At the heart of the issue is salmon. Salmon are a traditional food source for Native Americans as well as an economic boon when the runs are strong. Additionally, from a forest ecology viewpoint, salmon are critical for transporting marine nutrients (2). As of the late 90’s. the Puget Sound’s salmon run is only has about 8% of the historic run sizes in the late 1800’s. And the Washington Coast is only a meager 1.8% of it’s former size (3).
Clearly, this is an issue that is a) fixable, b) local, and c) is a detriment to the environment & the economy (yes, both!).
To learn more, visit DamNation’s Website or watch the film.
1) DamNation FAQ page
2) Cederholm, J et al. Pacific Salmon Carcasses: Essential Contributions of Nutrients and Energy for Aquatic and Terrestrial Ecosystesm