Salmon Restoration

The American River Parkway Preservation Society (ARPPS), sponsor of this blog, is going to be spending the next year looking at water supply issues in the American River as it relates to the health of the salmon, with a report in September of 2006.

In the process, along with primary research, we will be visiting various nonprofit and government institutes who research related issues.

One we will be visiting is the Property and Environment Research Center
(PERC), whose website is at

“PERC is the nation’s oldest and largest institute dedicated to original research that brings market principles to resolving environmental problems. Located in Bozeman, Montana, PERC pioneered the approach known as free market environmentalism, which is based on the following tenets.

Private property rights encourage stewardship of resources.

Government subsidies often degrade the environment.

Market incentives spur individuals to conserve resources and protect environmental quality.

Polluters should be liable for the harm they cause others.”

(PERC wesbsite)

A June 2003 article from PERC explores the restoration of salmon.

By Clay J. Landry

What is the value of a salmon? If you shop at Seattle’s Pike Place Market, a freshly caught salmon might be worth $98 (that is, about $6.50 a pound). If you are a fly fisherman, the sockeye you catch might cost between $25 and $75- depending on how much you spent for your gear or a guide. But these figures pale in comparison with the amount of money that the federal government pays in its efforts to keep salmon flowing through the tributaries of the Columbia and Snake River basins in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. A conservative estimate is that the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) alone is spending $400 per fish.

And there is little to show for this infusion of cash. Most of the money goes toward construction-oriented projects rather than the one thing that experts recognize is imperative for salmon protection-moving more water through the river system. Dam reservoirs “slow water flows . . . which may result in increased mortality, ” wrote the General Accounting Office (GAO) recently. “An abundant snow pack aids juvenile passage to the ocean by increasing water flows” (GAO 2002, 8). Low flows are bad; high flows are good.

The General Accounting Office’s 2002 study was one of the first studies to describe federal salmon and steelhead recovery projects and to quantify the amounts of money spent on preserving salmon. The study found “little conclusive evidence to quantify the extent of [the projects’] effects on returning fish populations” (GAO 2002, 3). Indeed, some of the GAO-reported activities don’t really qualify as recovery projects. They include “research studies,” “monitoring actions,” “surveying spawning grounds,” and ESA-required consultations” (GAO 2002, 4). Few activities are on-the-ground experiments in recovery management.

For the rest of the article:

About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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