Monday, March 17, 2008

Major Run of Chinook Salmon Completely Disappears: A Cautionary Tale

Scientists say they may never discover why the major run of this year's Chinook salmon in the lower 48 states never happened.

The point is - - what we take for granted in the environment can change suddenly, with profound consequences - - so with these precious natural resources, it's better to be safe than sorry.

In the long debate about whether the Great Lakes Compact should be approved in Wisconsin, there have been any number of off-the-cuff statements claims thrown out by those want easy access to Lake Michigan water for distant communities, like:

We only want a tiny bit of water.

The Lakes will never miss it.

Diversion rules shouldn't apply to us: It's not a diversion if we call it something else.

We're working to see if we can return most of it.

The current, historic lows in the lakes are a blip.

We'd never let happened to the ruined
Aral Sea happen to Lake Michigan.

And so on.

My point is failed stewardship on its own, or in concert with other forces, natural or artificial, can suddenly produce unintended or minimized consequences - - especially if you are not eternally vigilant, forward-thinking and rigorously honest and open about your plans and goals.

One day there's the biggest salmon run in the US south of Alaska. Then it's gone.

One day Lake Michigan and Lake Superior are at relatively-average depths, then ships are scraping the bottom in harbors as historic lows are hit.

Don't think that minimizing and spinning is a substitute for science, planning and conservation of a public resource.

And don't take the Great Lakes for granted.

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