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Salmon, People, and Place

A Biologist's Search for Salmon Recovery

Jim Lichatowich

Publication Year: 2013

Each year wild Pacific salmon leave their oceanic feeding grounds and swim hundreds of miles back to their home rivers. The salmon’s annual return is a place-defining event in the Pacific Northwest, with immense ecological, economic, and social significance. However, despite massive spending, efforts to significantly alter the endangered status of salmon have failed. 

In Salmon, People, and Place, acclaimed fisheries biologist Jim Lichatowich eloquently exposes the misconceptions underlying salmon management and recovery programs that have fueled the catastrophic decline in Northwest salmon populations for more than a century. These programs will continue to fail, he suggests, so long as they regard salmon as products and ignore their essential relationship with their habitat.

But Lichatowich offers hope. In Salmon, People, and Place he presents a concrete plan for salmon recovery, one based on the myriad lessons learned from past mistakes. What is needed to successfully restore salmon, Lichatowich states, is an acute commitment to healing the relationships among salmon, people, and place.

A significant contribution to the literature on Pacific salmon, Salmon, People, and Place: A Biologist’s Search for Salmon Recovery is an essential read for anyone concerned about the fate of this Pacific Northwest icon.

Watch a presentation by the author from the Salmonid Restoration Federation.

Published by: Oregon State University Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Quotes

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pp. 2-9


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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xii

This book would not have been written without the encouragement and help of my wife and best friend, Paulette. The encouragement from the rest of my family—Jim Jr., Sue, Ella, and Tim—was also a great help. Much of the motivation to write the book came from them. ...

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pp. 1-6

Rain—steady, heavy rain—so much rain that air and water merge into a single, wet grayness. I’m listening to the steady drumming of raindrops on the hood of my jacket while I look over the clear-cut. The ground is covered with a tangle of limbs and the trunks of non-merchantable trees. ...

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Part I: Icebergs, Myths, and Stories

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pp. 7-12

In his book Arctic Oil, John Livingston uses an iceberg as a metaphor for environmental problems, because environmental problems, like the iceberg, can be divided into a small, visible part and a larger, hidden mass.3 Livingston calls the exposed part of the environmental iceberg the issues; they are the highly visible effects of human activities. ...

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Chapter 1. Winter Wrens and Jumbo Jets

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pp. 13-32

The logging road winds through a cool, green tunnel of Douglas-fir, western redcedar, and western hemlock. The air is heavy with the rich, earthy smell of the rainforest. I can’t resist the urge to step out of the pickup and fill my lungs with the intoxicating freshness. Even though most of the ancient forests on the Olympic Peninsula have been logged, ...

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Side Channel 1 - Finding an Old Friend a Long Way from Home

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pp. 33-36

The late morning sun was gradually warming the frosty air, while the river, smooth as glass, slipped silently through a landscape dressed in fall colors. When I stopped to pull off my jacket, I saw her. She was lying under a hickory tree on the bank of a small stream a few feet from where it joined the river. ...

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Chapter 2. Salmon Stories

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pp. 37-70

Humans have been telling salmon stories for thousands of years. Those stories explain the source of the salmon’s abundance, define the terms of the human-salmon relationship, and set the rules that govern our behavior toward these magnificent animals. A culture’s stories can lead to long-term survival and prosperity or to crisis.3 ...

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Side Channel 2 - Thin Green Lines

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pp. 71-74

A stream meanders in the flat at the base of a low gradient slope. The course of the stream is clearly marked by a thin band of alders that snake across the clear-cut. It’s a large cut extending down the slope to the stream and beyond, taking in most of the flat. I walked the length of the stream where it crosses the naked land, checking the strip of trees left in the riparian zone. ...

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Chapter 3. The Meeting

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pp. 75-90

Four long tables are arranged in a square at one end of the large room. A tangle of wires and electronic devices fills the open space in the middle of the square. At three- to four-foot intervals, the small round heads of microphones rise from the tables on long skinny necks like a line of mesmerized cobras. ...

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Side Channel 3 - Visit to the River Machine

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pp. 91-96

Several years ago, I took I-84 out of Portland and headed up the Columbia River. I wanted to see firsthand what was being done to track the migration of juvenile salmon past John Day Dam. I drove under a thick layer of fog. It had crept inland, following the river all the way to the western edge of the gorge. ...

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Chapter 4. Coda

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pp. 97-124

In the 1980s I attended a meeting to explore ways to incorporate the latest scientific understanding of salmon genetics and ecology into hatchery practices. The meeting started with a senior fish culturist explaining why the state’s hatchery program couldn’t change its practices and backing it up with pearls of wisdom such as the emphatic conclusion that salmon genetics, ...

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Side Channel 4 - A Look at the Year 2150

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pp. 125-132

From time to time while writing and this book, I would push back from my desk and shift my thinking away from the immediate problems facing the salmon and speculate about the future. In those speculative moments, I would think about where our current path is going and where it will take the salmon and the bioregion. ...

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Part II: Re-story-ation

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pp. 133-144

The passages below describe two rivers. Both were once the home of steelhead, and the Carmel still is, but its steelhead population is listed as threatened under the federal ESA. Read the two descriptions, and I’ll catch you again on the other side. ...

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Chapter 5. Beyond the Crossroads: First Steps Toward Salmon Recovery

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pp. 145-180

Someone once asked me: Why is it so hard to change fish factories and reduce the problems they create for wild salmon? The real problem is not the fish factories, it is the story that guides how hatcheries are used. The story creates the demand for fish factories, elevates their importance, and excuses their failures. ...

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Side Channel 5 - Another Look at the Year 2150

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pp. 181-188

I have a recurring vision of an imagined future time in the Pacific Northwest. It always starts with a most unusual fishing trip. The year is 2150 and I am taking my great, great, great … grandson fishing again. My plan this time is to take him to Tillamook Bay to fish for salmon and renew my connection to the bay and its five tributary rivers. ...

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Chapter 6. Salmon, People, and Place

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pp. 189-208

I am a salmon biologist and I consider myself fortunate to live within sight of the Columbia River. It was once one of the world’s great salmon rivers. I often turn away from the computer, look at the river, and think about its problems and the problems of all salmon rivers. I am thinking about the river today; it is March 15, 2012. ...


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pp. 209-226


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pp. 227-238


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pp. 239-242

E-ISBN-13: 9780870717253
E-ISBN-10: 0870717251
Print-ISBN-13: 9780870717246
Print-ISBN-10: 0870717243

Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 2013