salmon

There's been another reprieve for those salmon-snarfing sea lions on the Columbia River. A reprieve from death anyway. The whiskery sea mammals are still up for a one-way trip to Sea World.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued an injunction and blocked the National Marine Fisheries Service from killing any California sea lions, stating that to kill them before the case has made its way through the court system is "by definition, irreparable."

However the judges did give the Fisheries Service the go-ahead on trapping the animals and offering them to zoos, aquariums and marine parks that may want a salmon loving sea lion of their very own. Sea lions, as it turns out, can be trained to "Riverdance," for their supper instead of lounging by the Bonneville Dam waiting for salmon to swim by.

Sea lion trapping is set to begin today, and sea lions are apparently already hanging out on platforms that can be rigged to trap the animals.

The sea lions have learned that the salmon cluster in the river to climb the Bonneville Dam's fish ladder. Since the dam blocks the river, the fish use the "ladder" to bypass the dam to get to their spawning grounds.

Federal estimates put the number of endangered spring chinook salmon scarfed by the sea lions as 212 to 2,094. This year's total salmon run is expected to be 269,000 fish.

Fish ladders do not allow all spawning salmon to bypass the dam. Dams also destroy salmon habitat and heat the water to temperatures the salmon cannot tolerate.

9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals scheduled a hearing for the case for May 8 in Pasadena, Calif.

There are no plans to eradicate the dam, or find it a new home somewhere else.

Want to get to Rainie Falls (pictured on this week's cover ) and check out the salmon for yourself?

From Eugene, it's about 120 miles south, on I-5. Take exit 76 (Wolf Creek) which is 48 miles south of Roseburg. Drive half a mile to the Wolf Creek Tavern, turn off into town two blocks, go under a railroad overpass, then turn left, and follow this road for 15 miles. Just before the Grave Creek bridge, you'll turn right to a boat ramp and trail parking area.

Want to comment on the WOPR? The BLM has hired a company called "Daylight Decisions" (uh because clearcuts sure do make things brighter in the forest without all those darn trees in the way) to collect comments for them.

Oh yeah, and you can comments on the article itself right here, on EW's own blog.

I once had a group of students in my rhetoric class at the University of Iowa who wrote and presented about the problems with hog lot farming.

Now you may think, "This has nothing to do with me! I'm a vegetarian!" or "Hunh, I live in a city, yokels in Iowa mean less than nothing," or something like that.

Oh, my friend, my friend, farming — the ways of big agriculture — they affect us all. From the desire of farmers in the Klamath Basin to irrigate their crops — thus destroying the fishing industry and salmon runs up and down the West Coast — to the nitrogen-based fertilizers that farmers, at the whims of a greedy corporation, put on their crops (crops that are grown for hogs, for cows and for biofuel, not to mention for tofu, for tempeh, for soy isolates easily stuck into almost anything from tennis shoes to "protein bars," which means this does affect and involve you), those ways are the ways that ruin our planet.

But. Though I'm not a fan of more hybrids or more modified food, here is some good news about one possible development that may save the Mississippi River, the Gulf of Mexico and the wheat farmers.

Huzzah, I say. (I like the direct-sow idea, but I know that large-scale farmers will want something less labor-intensive.) Huzzah, and let's please figure out something to help corn not be so evil as well.

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