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Salmon Without Rivers: A History Of The Pacific Salmon Crisis 1st Edition

4.9 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1559633611
ISBN-10: 1559633611
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The image of salmon battling upstream through whitewater cataracts to spawn in their birthplace is integral to any happy vision of the Pacific Northwest. Sadly, because they face more insidious obstacles than swift currents, few people today actually witness this remarkable spectacle. Armed with exhaustive research and an ability to synthesize his findings into a concise, readable indictment of the status quo, Jim Lichatowich, a fisheries scientist for 30 years, traces the sudden decline of Northwest salmon populations following the onset of Euro-American settlement. He points a finger at the usual suspects: logging, mining, damming, grazing, irrigation, commercial fishing, and development. Moreover, he cites the political establishment for a failure of nerve. Since the shift from a Native American "gift" economy based on sustainability to a profit economy based on self-interest and short-term financial gain, the historically resilient salmon have met one adversary after another, with little or no help from the legal apparatus charged with their protection. In fact, federal and state governments have responded to the deepening crisis mainly by building fish hatcheries up and down the West Coast. Contrary to the beliefs of entrenched bureaucrats and sport fishermen, says Lichatowich, hatcheries have merely diluted the gene pools of wild stocks while allowing resource extractors to continue their multifarious operations and politicians to shirk their responsibilities. In 1960, for instance, after decades of declining runs, the Washington Department of Fisheries reported, incredibly (and characteristically), that new advanced management techniques would soon result in "salmon without a river"--more welcome news to those who would continue to exploit these iconic fish and their habitat. At the dawn of the 21st century hundreds of hatcheries still operate, yet Northwest salmon populations have decreased 95 percent.

Lichatowich is a learned and persuasive advocate for wild salmon. He's also eloquent, as in this description of his first visit to the Columbia River's Grand Coulee dam:

As I sat there wondering and swatting mosquitoes, the face of the dam lit up. It was the start of the nightly laser show.... Appropriately, the lasers sent a series of large green dollar signs floating through the darkness. Then a series of laser salmon swam across the face of the dam. Here were the ideal salmon, I thought, the fish that fit perfectly into our worldview. We have complete control over them--press a button and they appear; press another and they change from green to red; press another and they swim over the dam. Salmon and dams are compatible--as long as you are not particular about the kind of salmon.
So what to do? Lichatowich opines that we need a new "worldview," one that places natural resources within a context of respect and sustainability. He looks to state and federal governments to enforce the protections already granted by laws like the Endangered Species Act. And he sees evidence that public perceptions may be changing on such issues as habitat conservation and biodiversity; breaching four dams on the lower Snake River to aid fish passage would have been unthinkable even in the early 1990s. Whether this new worldview can save salmon in time is another question. --Langdon Cook --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From 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.ABarbara Butler, Oregon Inst. of Marine Biology, Charleston
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Island Press; 1 edition (March 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1559633611
  • ISBN-13: 978-1559633611
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #154,679 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Pacific Salmon have been on the decline for well over a hundred years despite hundreds of millions of dollars spent on hatcheries and recovery programs. This book makes clear where we went wrong and points positive directions to begin recovery. Extremely readable, impressively documented and written with the passion of someone who clearly loves the Pacific Northwest environment
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Format: Hardcover
If you ever wondered why taypayers spend $1 billion a year on salmon, but there aren't any fish to catch, this is the book for you. "Salmon Without Rivers" brings together the scientific, economic, political and social causes that have resulted in salmon decline. If there is a philosopher when it comes to Northwest salmon issues, it is Jim Lichatowich, and his book will provide context and insight for anybody who is interested in the preservation of these Northwest icons. A significant book, by a thoughtful and wise man.
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Format: Hardcover
As a freelance author writing a piece about salmon for a California-based magazine, this book was indispensible and eye-opening. It is unfailingly sensitive and intelligent about salmon, discussing the fish as fellow creatures in the "natural economy" in which we all live, rather than as mere commodities in the "industrial economy" that has transformed the West in the last 150 years. It is fascinating about the geology that shaped the salmon's environment, the evolutionary history of the fish, the relationship between Native Americans and salmon in the Northwest, and it provides a detailed history of the many factors that have led to the salmon's decline, including habitat destruction, misbegotten hatchery programs, overfishing, dams, mining, grazing, irrigation. If you like to read books about ecology, the creatures of the earth, fish, or the Northwest--you can't go wrong. This is a wonderful book.
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Format: Hardcover
A thoroughly researched and impassioned presentation including the history of salmon, their decline, why billions of tax dollars in restoration efforts have had paltry returns, and insights into the where we should go from here. A complex issue is examined from many perspectives in an easy to read and compelling book. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in salmon.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this for my Fish and Wildlife Conservation class at Oregon State University and I have really enjoyed this book. It is an easy read packed full of information about salmon in the Pacific Northwest. The history of the man's impact on the salmon in the nineteenth century is very interesting. It's a great insight, written for all to understand.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is book on why we need to reclaim salmon habitat before it is too late and salmon become extinct on the Pacific coast. We used this book in a high school research project my son was doing. I really appreciated the scholarship and the book is very readable.
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Format: Paperback
This is an excellent book that documents the history of salmon, how native Americans viewed them and how modern Americans view them. It focuses on why the pacific northwest is facing a salmon crisis, and our failed attempts to replace what we have lost. Great read for anyone who is concerned about environmental issues.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was mention at the coffee shop with comments was worth reading. Order for my husband who said it was worth the price and is excellent reading for the crisis taking place in the Pacific Northwest for Salmon.
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