Some activists believe there is no such thing as a good dam, AWB President Don Brunell writes in his weekly column. They want all of them removed.
A better approach is a more balanced one that starts with identifying which dams we can live with and which we can live without.
Some recent examples show when it makes sense to remove a dam and when it's possible to return fish runs through other means, such as trucking.
The Elwha and Glines Canyon dams were demolished last year on the Olympic Peninsula and the Condit Dam was breached on the White Salmon River, but it's a different story on the Lewis River, where PacifiCorp has agreed to spend $120 million to return fish runs.
On the Columbia and Snake rivers, fish ladders and barging have proven successful.
"If the dams on the Elwha and White Salmon rivers were constructed today, they would have included fish passage system," Brunell writes. "Because they did not, they came down.
"But not all dams have to come down," he adds. "When fish passages are an option, it is worth the investment to enchance fish habitat while providing low-cost electricity for our growing economy."