A BRIEF REVIEW: THE DEATH OF THE COHO
We covered this back in July, but the Seattle Times just released an article on Wednesday that highlighted the problem once again: stormwater is killing coho salmon before they can spawn. It’s called pre-spawn mortality, and it’s a surefire way to push extinction along.
The bad news is that it will continue. Here’s why:
In the Pacific Northwest, it’s sunny and dry all summer long, well into September.
During the dry season, all of the oil and grease and tire dust and brake fluids…not to mention pet waste, pesticides, herbicides, and so on…are deposited on driveways, streets, and parking lots.
All of that debris builds up, and it’s highly toxic.
It starts to rain in late September/October. The first rains carry the highest concentrations of toxins as stormwater runoff into our lakes, river, and streams.
Coincidentally, our coho salmon swim upstream to spawn at exactly the same time.
The good news is that we are taking steps to fix it. Installing green stormwater infrastructure, protecting riparian systems, and tracking and prioritizing locations with the highest runoff and biggest impacts helps.
But it takes all of us to pitch in, because in cases of extinction, and the loss of a culture, it is too great of a risk to stand by and hope someone else does it first.
So plant a rain garden. Take care of your car. And pick up after your pets. You’re not just saving money and peace of mind. You’re saving our history and protecting our priceless resources.