I see that the Kenai Watershed Forum is out again advertising the successful replacement of another culvert. It makes me wonder about this intense focus placed on culvert replacement as being some kind of magic pill to save our salmon. I can only see culverts having a minimal impact on us having more salmon in the future. There are many things that could stop salmon departures or arrivals, why focus so much on culverts? As far as salmon stoppers go I see culverts being a minor player when compared to the stopping power of our commercial gill net industry. Commercial fishing is a major salmon stopper, it prevents millions of salmon from reaching there spawning grounds, why not try to address these salmon stoppers also?
The commercial gill net industry blocks off the majority of Cook Inlet’s rivers and streams with gill nets from June to August each year. Why not try focusing in on trying to remove even some of these nets? Why spend most of your time repairing culverts when the bulk of our returning salmon will never even reach those culverts because they are killed by commercial fishing, trawlers or marine environmental factors? Why not at least spend some of your time trying to also address saltwater issues along with the culverts? I see commercial fishing and ocean environmental issues stopping way more salmon than culverts.
It’s not reasonable to spend most of your time and resources getting rid of minimal impact culverts, while entire salmon migrations are being blocked off by commercial fishing. Fix all the culverts that you want but it is a lack of vision if while doing so you fail to address our even larger ocean salmon stoppers. It is a significant thing for an environmental organization to be unable to focus on a salmon or watershed problem with origins outside their own little Kenai River bubble. A true environmental organizations should be able to also focus on issues and events outside their local area of concerns.
A true environmental organizations should not define its interests between river mile markers or according to which user group hands them the largest check. It is illogical to spend buckets of time and resources worrying about culverts stopping salmon migration when you don’t even attempt to prevent the commercial fishing from stopping the bulk of our salmon migration.
The bulk of our returning salmon are killed before even reaching us, therefore it just might be time to take a closer look at their marine fisheries and watershed environments. This kind of intense local focus can completely mis-direct an environmental organization. Excessive culvert watershed vision could leave us with sparkling new culverts that our returning salmon will never see, because they were killed in the saltwater.