Monday, November 19, 2007

National Geographic Adventure sells Columbia River salmon short

In an article in the December/January 2008 issue of National Geographic Adventure magazine, Paul Kvinta illustrates the struggle between protected sea lions and fishermen skirmishing over the last dwindling stocks of Columbia River salmon.

Unfortunately, Kvinta doesn't address the real problem facing our endangered salmon run until the very end of the article (several pages and jumps into the piece). Kivnta finally gets to it here:

The government built 14 dams on the main stem of the Columbia River and more than 250 in the basin. The salmon population dropped from some ten million fish to less than 300,000.

Of particular concern are four dams on the lower Snake River build between 1960 and 1975 to make Lewiston, Idaho -- 465 miles inland -- a port. Until then, Idaho had produced half of the Chinook salmon in the Columbia Basin. The dams generate less than 5% of the electricity used in the Northwest, they provide no flood control, and they supply irrigation to fewer than 20 farms.

Why couldn't that be in the front of this article? Most likely because Kvinta or his editor John Rasmus made an editorial decision: ODFW agents spraying giant pinnipeds with rubber bullets is way more compelling to the average reader than salmon slowly dwindling to extinction due to beuracratic inertia.

But nonetheless its a huge waste in my opinion. NG Adventure is a big publication and Kvinta is a very talented writer (his article on Rory Stewart is the best article I've ever read in one of the "outdoors" magazines).

A: Kvinta is a good enough writer to make this issue interesting to a much wider audience.
B: Isn't the National Geographic Society responsible to fight species extinction? I haven't read its charter or anything, but I idolized National Geographic writers and photographers since I was a kid and always thought of them as environmental stewards.

Bottom line: Kvinta and Rasmus dropped the ball. They had an opportunity to raise awareness about a species that is circling the drain and instead they relegated that info to the back of the magazine.

Luckily, YOU CITIZEN ENVIRONMENTALISTS can affect change where these folks fell short. Send a message to the Federal Government on this issue at

1 comment:

Bpaul said...

I agree completely about the sea lion/fisherman media puppetry.

Has always pissed me off as a stupid diversion from the real reasons salmon are declining, no small streams to rear young in.

So frustrating, the endless diversion tactics.