Salmon Without Rivers: A History of the Pacific Salmon Crisis / Edition 1

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<p>"Fundamentally, the salmon's decline has been the consequence of a vision based on flawed assumptions and unchallenged myths.... We assumed we could control the biological productivity of salmon and 'improve' upon natural processes that we didn't even try to understand. We assumed we could have salmon without rivers." -from the introductio.<p>From a mountain top where an eagle carries a salmon carcass to feed its young to the distant oceanic waters of the California current and the Alaskan Gyre, salmon have penetrated the Northwest to an extent unmatched by any other animal. Since the turn of the twentieth century, the natural productivity of salmon in Oregon, Washington, California, and Idaho has declined by eighty percent. The decline of Pacific salmon to the brink of extinction is a clear sign of serious problems in the region.<p>In Salmon Without Rivers, fisheries biologist Jim Lichatowich offers an eye-opening look at the roots and evolution of the salmon crisis in the Pacific Northwest. He describes the multitude of factors over the past century and a half that have led to the salmon's decline, and examines in depth the abject failure of restoration efforts that have focused almost exclusively on hatcheries to return salmon stocks to healthy levels without addressing the underlying causes of the decline. The book:<ul> <li> describes the evolutionary history of the salmon along with the geologic history of the Pacific Northwest over the past 40 million years <li> considers the indigenous cultures of the region, and the emergence of salmon-based economies that survived for thousands of years <li> examines the rapid transformation of the region following the arrival of Europeans <li> presents the history of efforts to protect and restore the salmon <li> offers a critical assessment of why restoration efforts have failed.</ul><p>Throughout, Lichatowich argues that the dominant worldview of our society-a worldview that denies connections between humans and the natural world-has created the conflict and controversy that characterize the recent history of salmon; unless that worldview is challenged and changed, there is little hope for recovery. Salmon Without Rivers exposes the myths that have guided recent human-salmon interactions. It clearly explains the difficult choices facing the citizens of the region, and provides unique insight into one of the most tragic chapters in our nation's environmental history.
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Editorial Reviews


"Lichatowich provides a critical perspective on salmon hatchery successes and failures, and his book of captivating stories provides a fascinating, readable, and chilling wake-up call to how humans have mismanaged their natural heritage."
Library Journal
Lichatowich is a well-known fisheries biologist who has contributed extensively to the literature on salmonid populations during his 25-year career. His book offers a biologist's view of the salmon crisis in the Pacific Northwest, discussing the failure of restoration efforts, which have concentrated on returning salmon to the rivers without understanding the cause of the fish's decline. Two other works have recently covered this same subject: Freeman House's Totem Salmon: Life Lessons from Another Species (LJ 4/15/99) and Joseph E. Taylor III's Making Salmon: An Environmental History of the Northwest Fisheries Crisis (LJ 9/1/99). Totem Salmon is by far the easiest of the three to read, but Salmon Without Rivers and Making Salmon thoroughly address the complexity of the salmon crisis from both a biological and historical perspective. All three deserve a place in public and academic libraries. For a well-indexed, scholarly treatment of the problem, academic readers should also consider Upstream: Salmon and Society in the Pacific Northwest (National Academy Pr., 1996) for reference needs.--Barbara Butler, Oregon Inst. of Marine Biology, Charleston Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Lichatowich, a fisheries biologist who has spent the greater part of 30 years working in salmon management in Oregon and Washington, critiques salmon restoration efforts and discusses the history of the crisis in terms of policy, culture, and science. He demonstrates how hatcheries have failed as a solution, discusses the region's indigenous cultures, and argues for a balance between the industrial and natural economies of the Northwest. This is a paperbound reprint of a 1999 work. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
Kirkus Reviews
A careful account of the making of an environmental crisis. Few people know the biology of the anadromous salmon as well as Lichatowich, a government fishery scientist who has devoted more than three decades to studying the fish in the Pacific Northwest. Lichatowich offers a brief but thorough natural history of the seven species of Pacific salmon, an ancient creature whose lineage can be traced back more than 400 million years. Those species have met with near-extinction in just the last 150 years, a time coincident with the arrival of Euroamericans into the Northwest and their employment of wide-scale, destructive environmental practices that displaced the long-evolved salmon-based economies of the Northwest's indigenous peoples. Lichatowich points out that what underlies the salmon crisis is not so much an easily identifiable and corrigible single cause as a set of related issues: deforestation, poor stream management, overfishing, and habitat destruction. "Habitat degradation," he writes acutely, "has not simply been a long-overlooked by-product of our industrial economy. It has been the direct result of the large-scale ecosystemic simplification that is a central and guiding vision of that economy." That oversimplification, he argues, has led to the false view that salmon are best grown in hatcheries, like so many hothouse flowers, rather than allowed to flourish in free-flowing rivers, a habitat that itself is increasingly rare, replaced by dams and reservoirs. He examines the long battle to preserve the Northwest's watercourses, noting that as early as 1928 the state of Oregon unsuccessfully proposed that its rivers be deemed fish sanctuaries and protected from commercialdevelopment. "We simply cannot have salmon without healthy rivers," he closes by observing—and making those healthy rivers will involve restructuring the economy of an entire region, an unlikely prospect. Environmentalists will find much of value, if little comfort, in Lichatowich's pages. (Tables, figures, photos, not seen)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781559633611
  • Publisher: Island Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2001
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 317
  • Sales rank: 807,051
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Jim Lichatowich has been a fisheries scientist for twenty-nine years, working for most of that time in salmon management and research in Oregon and Washington. He is a member of three independent teams of scientists investigating the salmon crisis, and has written numerous scientific and technical papers on the history, current status, and future prospects of salmon. His essays have appeared in a variety of publications including Trout magazine, Peninsula magazine, Riverkeeper, and Shirkin Comment.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Hooknose
Chapter 2. The Five Houses Of Salmon
Chapter 3. New Values For The Land And Water
Chapter 4. The Industrial Economy Enters The Northwest
Chapter 5. Free Wealth
Chapter 6. Cultivate The Waters
Chapter 7. The Winds Of Change
Chapter 8. A Story Of Two Rivers
Chapter 9. The Road To Extinction
Epilogue: Building A New Salmon Culture
Appendix A: Classification Of Anadromous Forms Of Salmon
Appendix B: Comparison Of The Life Histories Of Seven Species Of Pacific Salmon And Trout
Appendix C: Geologic Epochs Mentioned In The Text
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