MOUNTAIN IN THE CLOUDS: A Search for the Wild Salmon by Bruce Brown

MOUNTAIN IN THE CLOUDS: A Search for the Wild Salmon

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A beautifully done book on the destruction of the Olympic Peninsula's wild salmon runs through environmental degradation (logging, dams, pollution)--and, inseparably, the recourse to fish hatcheries as a remedy. The latter constitutes the ecological news, provides the salient political and economic insights, stirs the deepest apprehensions. Hatcheries, Brown gradually discloses, were offered as an alternative to fish ladders, at dams, which would have enabled the wild salmon to reach their spawning grounds; but not only were hatcheries unable to replace the fish lost, hatchery salmon displaced wild salmon--through spreading disease, through direct competition for food, through (""most pernicious"") destruction, by interbreeding, of the genetic diversity intrinsic to the salmon's migratory existence and stream-by-stream adaptation. Meanwhile the Washington State Dept. of Fisheries' budget and power came to depend on building a hatchery system, not on protecting the wild salmon runs; and--a secondary theme--the interests of commercial fishermen, in mere quantity, supplanted the treaty-rights of the Peninsula Indians, in half the wild fish. To convey the loss, Brown proceeds stream-by-stream. On the Queets, he and two companions search for Chinook--and he discusses the impact of clearcut logging and offshore trolling. On the Elwha, where the Chinook were once the largest of all--no Chinook are left. On the Humptulips and around Greys Harbor, logging and pulp-mill pollution leave ""dead fish, running into the millions""; now, Brown notes, Weyerhauser is moving to the Philippines. Can it be, Brown concludes, ""that industrial society extends and consolidates its control by creating scarcities that can only be met by entering the money economy?"" Dexterously, Brown conveys an immediate, equal concern for the fate of the wild salmon and the-reasons-why.

Pub Date: June 18th, 1982
Publisher: Simon & Schuster