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Opinion >  Editorial

‘Salmon cannon’ an intriguing experiment

The following abridged versions of Northwest editorials do not necessarily reflect the view of The Spokesman-Review’s editorial board.

Yakima Herald-Republic, July 14

On the Yakima River near Roza Dam, biologists recently conducted a little experiment that could revolutionize the policies and politics surrounding fish migration, which has long been one of the Northwest’s most contentious issues. If implemented on a large scale, the experiment could help provide a template for protecting endangered fish species around the country.

The so-called “salmon cannon” is a 21st-century approach to what 20th-century dams have done to migrating fish throughout the region. While providing undeniable benefits for irrigation and hydropower, the dams also closed off hundreds of miles of streams to migrating fish. Many dams have fish ladders but not all do, and the ladders come at considerable cost.

As a ladder alternative, a Seattle-based company – aptly named Whooshh Innovations – has developed a system of flexible sleeves that operate much like a pneumatic tube. At the Roza Dam test, a biologist fed fish into a tube, and about 35 seconds later the fish arrived in a hatchery truck parked 1,100 feet upriver.

The fish don’t seem to mind their brief journey, in which they speed through the tube at speeds approaching 20 mph. In fact, scientists say the quick trip is less stressful on the fish than having them expend energy in their struggle up fish ladders – especially in the recent hot summers that have warmed the water in the rivers.

In the political realm, widespread use of the salmon cannon could counter arguments that removal of major dams in the Pacific Northwest is necessary to assure healthy runs of migrating fish. The reduced cost estimates, if they pan out, will strengthen the appeal of fish mitigation in conjunction with storage projects.

Walla Walla Union_Bulletin, July 14

United States Supreme Court justices have traditionally – and wisely – stayed clear of partisan politics. Their responsibility to the nation is to serve as the final word in interpreting the U.S. Constitution.

Given that, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s recent forays into political punditry are clearly inappropriate. It might not be illegal, but it’s lousy judgment. It’s also not helpful to the nation.

Ginsburg has been railing against the presumptive Republican nominee for president, Donald Trump. In the past week, Ginsburg has publicly discussed her view of the presidential race at least three times.

On Thursday, she conceded her mistake. “On reflection, my recent remarks in response to press inquiries were ill-advised and I regret making them,” she said.

Political commentary by one of the highest ranking members of the judicial branch of government does nothing to further the debate over who should oversee the executive branch of government.

Indeed, it makes an already angry and divisive election season just that much more polarizing.

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