Elwha recovery

We posted a bit about Elwha in February, but it’s been coming up more and more frequently lately. I particularly enjoyed this article in the Seattle Times about plans to stock both salmon and non-native steelhead strains to “jump start” the fishery.

Some great bits like: “Genetically related to wild winter-run Washington steelhead, those trout may be a descendant of native Elwha River steelhead, locked up behind the dams like jewels in a box, waiting now more than a century for a chance to once more express their genetic capacity to go to sea as steelhead.”

And: “‘Were treaty rights not involved and the obligation to provide for continuing fishing opportunities through this transition period not active, then we would not do Chambers Creek,’ Stelle said. ‘But those obligations are real, and they are substantial. Treaty rights are not a bumper sticker. It is a reality, and because of it we have had to reshape and modify the transition program.'”

Also, and not to get too heavy on a cold Wednesday morning, I used to study the philosophy of science and this is one of the rare cases where legitimate philosophical inquiry is quite relevant to the real world, i.e. what constitutes a mechanism and how management practices can be informed by what we take natural systems to be.

“Some, such as Jim Lichatowich, author of ‘Salmon Without Rivers,’ also see a bigger, fundamental wrongheadedness: Even using the language of ‘jump-start,’ he said, betrays a mechanistic view of what is actually a complex, resilient natural system, capable of recovery all on its own.

‘The Elwha is not a dead battery,’ Lichatowich said.”

Tip of the proverbial hat to The Drake.