Bull Schmidt

I know Congressman Russ Fulcher well. And I appreciate he can say what he thinks should be said. But I feel free to call him out when he speaks, what my high school taunters called, “Bull Schmidt.”

There has been a 20-yearlong lawsuit about Idaho salmon and the lower four Snake River dams. For those of you who don’t live here, our salmon spawn in our streams, then must go to the ocean through state boundaries established by 1870’s Congresses. To get to the ocean Idaho Salmon must traverse falls and waters now slack behind dams in a state called Washington, then down a dammed Columbia between Oregon and Washington. These boundaries do not respect anadromous fish. But we have a federal government that authorized the damming of this channel. It is now a channel of death.

It seems there is finally an agreement, of sorts. It seems, the claimants will agree to not pursue further expensive lawsuits if renewable energy is promoted to replace the measly megawatts of the lower four Snake River dams, situated in Washington.

These lower four dams have long been in dispute. They were almost an afterthought of the Army Corps of Engineers.

But the salmon have always been prized.

It wasn’t long after white men came to this country before nets were strung across the Columbia. Canned salmon rivaled red fir as our greatest export after the beaver and gold were gone. Downstream Oregon established a Fish and Game commission to regulate the harvest of salmon in the 1870’s when they saw the carnage. Upstream Idaho just shrugged. We spent our game preservation energy on elk.

But the Federal Government did sign a treaty with the Nez Perce. Then they manufactured another, more suiting their needs. But the Nez Perce did not sign. A surrogate did. Then the US Army drove the nontreaty folks into death. If only Custer hadn’t been such a damn fool.

That 1855 treaty promised that the land my house stands on would forever belong to the people that saved the lives of the Corps of Discovery. But the nimiipuu  do not make that claim.

They want the salmon promised.

Congressman Fulcher claims the deal made about the lower four dams will destroy our economy. I say “our” because I live here. I drive through Lewiston and Clarkston to go steelhead and salmon fishing. I know these small towns.

The proposal to make the lower Snake River slack water suggested having an Idaho seaport would boom their economy. But please just look at the numbers. Lewiston and Clarkston boomed while they were building the dams. But since they have grown like the rest of us. Dams have not made them boom. But the salmon have dwindled.

So, Congressman Fulcher is guilty of “bull Schmidt”. Increasing alternative energy sources to replace what the dams produce will not decimate the economy of this region. It will weaken the arguments of the dam huggers.

The dams were initially approved by Congress in the 1940’s. But the Bureau of Reclamation and the Army Corps of Engineers thought they were not worth the expense. The combined use of passage for barges and hydroelectric diminished their effectiveness. But when the funding was slipped into a secret plan despite Eisenhower’s disapproval, they got built.

So, the outrage Congressman Russ Fulcher exclaims at the deal agreed to replace these dams’ energy production should be considered in the history of how these concrete fiascoes got built.

Nobody was listened to when Ice Harbor got funded.

Then Lower Monumental and Little Goose followed.

And the salmon runs died off.

Then Little Granite and now we have multimillion dollar salmon recovery efforts, hatchery fish, and our economies are about what they were.

So, you want to kill the salmon for what?

Bull Schmidt, Congressman. I’d be glad to say it to your face.

About ddxdx

A Family physician, former county coroner and former Idaho State Senator
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