Are hatcheries good for fisheries? Dylan Tomine and Bill McMillan weigh in on the hatchery myth.

The appeal is undeniable. I get it. If we just put enough money into building fish hatcheries, we can mitigate all the damage we’ve caused to our rivers. The idea that man can do better than nature, that technology can triumph over any adversity, is just part of our pioneer spirit. On the once-mighty Columbia River, the efforts to make up for all the cheap electricity our dams produce have, according to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, cost citizens $11.8 billion in salmon mitigation efforts. At one point not long ago, according to a study by the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, a single harvested spring Chinook born and bred in the Upper Columbia’s Entiat National Fish Hatchery cost more than $68,000 to produce. Ridiculous, sure. But it’s easy to discount such programs, along with the hundreds of hatcheries up and down the West Coast that see their returns dwindling year after year, as products of a bygone era…

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