Re: “Removing Lower Snake River Dams offers best chance for salmon recovery — at steep price, report says” [June 9, Local News]:

“A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”

These sentences are central to Aldo Leopold’s seminal essay “The Land Ethic.” They establish a premise for evaluating human intrusions into the natural environment, and the more violated our environment becomes the more crucial Leopold’s premise becomes for preserving this complex community.

The release of Gov. Jay Inslee’s and U.S. Sen. Patty Murray’s report on the future of the Snake River dams crystallizes Leopold’s thesis. Their report outlines the demonstrable benefits that would accrue to all of the river’s constituents from breaching the four dams: survival of the river’s endangered salmon runs; reinvigorating the salmon-dependent Puget Sound orcas; improving commercial and tribal fishing opportunities; improved irrigation and streamlined transportation for farmers; and a major increase in recreation on a free-flowing river — i.e., the entire biotic community of the magnificent Snake and Columbia River ecosystem.

We must embrace this opportunity to re-imagine the wild beauty of the Snake River while simultaneously benefiting all the human and wild residents of the Pacific Northwest. We are all — salmon, orca, human — beholden to this river.

Michael W. Shurgot, Seattle