Delving deep into a discussion about Northwest salmon at a winery might typically run along the lines of "Do you go with the pinot grigio or the fume blanc?"
But not Wednesday evening at Caterina Winery in Spokane and Thursday noon at the Iron Horse in Coeur d'Alene. Two investigations into the status of salmon in the Columbia/Snake river systems are on tap for discussion. Documentary filmmaker Jim Norton will air Salmon: Running the Gauntlet, which just aired Sunday on the PBS series, Nature. Writer Steve Hawley, author of Recovering a Lost River, which examines dam removal on the Klamath River, will also speak.
The Caterina event begins at 7 pm and is free. Norton, a filmmaker and river guide from Boise, examines the long-accepted practice of producing hatchery salmon to replace losses to wild fish in the rivers. Hatchery fish do not have the genetic creativity to adapt to the myriad challenges faced by salmon during their strange and incredible life cycles, he argues.
Running the Gauntlet, Norton tells The Inlander, "is anchored in the life history of salmon. It looks at what makes salmon really special, why they have such an enduring hold on our narrative in the Pacific Northwest, and it looks at the intersection of our life history and theirs."
As the Columbia and Snake became more industrial — used for irrigation and barging and hydropower — human involvement to manage salmon, Norton says, has resulted in "a pretty complex natural-resources-and-recovery program that is one of the most expensive in history."
Hawley's book, according to press materials, "shows how river restoration, with dam removal at its centerpiece, is not only a virtuous ecological practice but also a growing social and economic enterprise."
On Thursday, the two will speak at the Kootenai Environmental Alliance's monthly gathering at noon at the Iron Horse in downtown Coeur d'Alene.