To the editor: I am a fisheries biologist working in part on salmon migrations in the Yukon River. I was profoundly disturbed by the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner editorial on Oct. 27, suggesting that we missed a great opportunity 60 years ago to produce tremendous amounts of power by constructing a massive dam on the Yukon River at the Rampart Rapids, a narrow point on the Yukon River about 40 miles upstream from the community of Tanana.
I thought about writing about the great harm that this dam would have caused to the enormous amount of waterfowl nesting habitat in the Yukon Flats upstream that would have been flooded by this dam and about the tremendous salmon runs that would have been compromised by such a structure, impeding their migrations to upstream spawning areas in the Canadian parts of the drainage. But I’m comforted now by the knowledge that in the Oct. 31 edition of the paper, Jenny Bell-Jones wrote a much more eloquent rebuttal to this flawed editorial than I ever could have.
Ms. Bell-Jones clearly spelled out the harm not only to the wildlife resources that depend on the free flow of this great river but also to the Native residents of the Yukon Flats region that would have resulted from the construction of this massive dam. I absolutely agree with Ms. Bell-Jones that the Rampart Dam would have been a colossal mistake for our fledgling state. Perhaps the editorial staff at the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner should research their opinion pieces a little more carefully in the future.