McNary Dam: Opposition
It is only a matter of time before the dams will become filled with silt, flood-control storage will be lost, and the original purpose for which the dams were built defeated . . .
Dr. Paul R. Needham, 1946
Not everyone supported building McNary Dam. In 1946 Dr. Paul R. Needham, Director of Fisheries, Oregon State Game Commission, predicted McNary would bring doom to Columbia Basin fisheries. Others opposed to the dam included commercial fishermen, fisheries biologists, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, the National Association of Electric Companies, John L. Lewis of the United Mineworkers, easterners and part of the Congressional delegation of Washington State.
Support for the dam waned as fisheries biologists drew mixed conclusions, and justifications for dam building shifted. The Federal Fish and Wildlife Service concluded McNary would diminish runs, but not exterminate them. Dr. Needham predicted McNary would be the beginning of the end to steelhead and salmon runs if comprehensive development continued on the upper Columbia River. Labor groups either supported or opposed the dams depending on their industry associations and outlook on public versus private power production. Easterners opposed McNary on the principle that enough money had already been poured into concrete western coffers, and did not want eastern business heading west.