PAT NEAL: Jefferson County’s resiliency plan bad for Hoh River, salmon

In last week’s episode, we followed the extinction of the salmon from Europe to the Eastern shore of the New World and across the Continent to the Pacific Northwest. It’s an extinction that represents a greater biomass than the estimated 60 million bison that roamed the Great Plains. Fortunes were made exterminating the bison. Fortunes are being made with the extinction of the salmon.

Witnessing this tragedy is like watching an old friend die from neglect while being assured they’re getting the best medical care. We’re watching our rivers die while being told questionable salmon restoration practices are the best available science.

A good example of this “greenwashing” of the environment is Jefferson County’s proposed “Upper Hoh River Resiliency Plan.” The county contends the Hoh River runs way too fast and wanders too far across the valley, and we can’t have that. Never mind that the Hoh Tribe’s name for the river is “Ohalet,” meaning “Fast Moving Water.” With the amount of your tax money they are spending, the county should be able to hire a consultant to come up with a new name in no time.

Apparently, the wrong trees are growing along the Hoh River, but the resiliency plan will fix that by cutting down the stream-side deciduous trees, the alder, willow and cottonwood, and replacing them with conifer trees that will grow large enough to stop the river. Just how large a tree must be to stop the Hoh is unknown since massive spruce 8 to 10 feet in diameter are toppled by the river every year. How long this will take is unknown because the resiliency plan does not answer questions.

The resiliency plan has also decided there are too many rocks in the Hoh River. They’re going to fix that by lining the river with log jams that will stop the river from “avulsing;” that is, changing its channel like it’s done for the last 15,000 years. Past log jam construction has been hard on the fish. The shock waves caused by pile-driving steel I-beams into the river burst the air bladders of fish and killed them. Now, they are dumping concrete in the river which crushes the fish and spawning beds instead.

Log jams are a threat to human life. The last two fatalities in the Hoh River were in log jams, including the hereditary chief of the Hoh Tribe, David Hudson Jr. Log jams can move the river in unexpected ways, causing property loss to landowners, but the resiliency plan assumes no liability so they don’t have to worry about it.

After cutting down the trees and plugging the river with log jams, the resiliency plan will give it a good dose of glyphosate to control invasive species. Glyphosate is a key ingredient in the herbicide Roundup™ made by Monsanto. The resiliency plan contends that glyphosate is harmless to people, fish and amphibians, but they had better hurry up and spray it quick.

Monsanto’s owner Bayer AG, a company that once paid Nazis to collaborate with Dr. Mengele on toxic chemical experiments in concentration camps, announced it would remove glyphosate-based herbicides from the U.S. by 2023 due to tens of thousands of lawsuits from people alleging they developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma from glyphosate herbicides.

That is the goal and the dream of the resiliency plan. To transform the most beautiful river in America from a wilderness stream into an industrial experiment to see just how much money they can spend. Unfortunately, all the state money and all the consultants, nonprofits and their bureaucrat buddies will not bring our salmon back again.

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Pat Neal is a Hoh River fishing and rafting guide and “wilderness gossip columnist” whose column appears here every Wednesday.

He can be reached at 360-683-9867 or by email via [email protected]

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