Powder River, view North, above the Powder River, the South Wallowas—
50 Years of erasing Salmon from Consciousness . . .
The road, Highway 86, in the center of image, is about 10 k to North; The mountain
ridge, just barely reaching above the clouds, is Cornucopia Peak (2630 m.), about
30 k distant as the crow flies. Salmon have been, as the saying goes, 'extirpated
from the basin.' (Extirpate = 'to pull a stem out by the roots...') In fact, salmon
have been so thoroughly erased from the area that they are not even a part
of any recovery plan. The runs essentially stopped with the completion of
the Brownlee Dam in 1958.
The white band running left to right in the lower part of the image is the
now dammed Powder River as it flows through the Brownlee Reservoir
to join the Snake, about 15 kilometers further downstream from this point.
The numbers are interesting: The subbasin of the Powder is c. 2,800
square kilometers, or almost 16% of Switzerland;
It flows from its source in the Blue Mountains (West of photo) some 230 k,
where it joins the Snake River;
From this point to the Pacific Ocean there are 11 major dams, which works
out to about one dam for every 90 k of river;
The elevation of the water seen below in the image is 633 meters, which
I find personally a number of great interest. For despite the tremendous natural
labyrinth formed by countless peaks and canyons—just imagine getting
from where this photo was made to the distant peak on foot without a map
to guide one! (I've done it twice, once by bike + foot, and once by ski + snowshoe,
the latter taking almost a week)—there is no natural barrier between that elevation
of 633 meters and the distant sea.
Future generations will no doubt look down in disbelief on all the immense
breached dams, relics of the 20th Century's barriers that broke the flow of this
one, simple, pristine—amazingly beautiful—fact.
On the road in the Northwest of America.
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Photograph by Cliff Crego © 2008 picture-poems.com