By John C. Ryan
“Not so much a measure of our gluttony as a reminder of how immensely rich this region is.” – The Georgia Straight, Vancouver, BC
Note: The State of the Northwest 2000 is out of print, but you can download the PDF version for free.
Imagine an animal that comes to life in the mountains, floats backward to the sea, puts on weight while swimming thousands of miles in the open ocean, muscles its way up rapids and waterfalls without eating, and mates only when it is half dead. This is the Pacific salmon, a creature whose epic journey makes it uniquely qualified to examine the health of the Northwest’s varied ecosystems.
In State of the Northwest, John Ryan lets a spring chinook do just that. By taking the point of view of a young salmon as she travels from river to ocean and back, he conducts a rigorous check of the region’s natural riches. First published in 1994, this report finds that ecosystems are still in critical condition. Yet our environment remains less degraded than almost anywhere else in the industrial world, pointing to the rare opportunity that we in the Northwest have to build a sustainable way of life.
John C. Ryan was research director for Northwest Environment Watch, the former name of Sightline, from 1993 to 2000.