Plan to Boost Snake River
The Snake River fall chinook return in the 1990s was in dire straits, and since then the run has seen a significant growth and now a plan is in the works that will hopefully further jump start to fish toward a path of recovery.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries Department recently released a proposed plan to rebuild this threatened run of fish, which declined after dams in Hells Canyon blocked much of their historic habitat but have since made a resurgence.
There was a time when close to 500,000 chinook returned to the Snake River, and spawned along a 600-mile stretch of the river from Shoshone Falls (near Twin Falls, Idaho) downstream. In 2014 a record count of 60,687 adult fall chinook were counted at Lower Granite Dam, which was built in 1975, and previous high was 56,565 in 2013 followed by 41,815 in 2010. The 2015 run was expected to be 20,900, and the actual return should be available sometime later this winter.
The Snake population is split into two groups -- one above Hells Canyon and one below.
NOAA Fisheries listed the Snake fall chinook run as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1992, and most of the blame was pointed to over-fishing, dam construction, loss of habitat and other issues such as terrible ocean conditions.
The dams in Hells Canyon reduced the run to around 20 percent of their historic spawning habitat that remained below the dams, according to a NOAA news release.
Since the 1990s, Snake fall chinook have managed to bounce back with at least 50,000 hatchery and wild fish returning each year.
The comprehensive recovery plan outlines ways to rebuild the run, and was a group effort by state, tribal and federal biologists and other stakeholders.
The public comments will be accepted through Jan. 4. To view the plan, go to go.usa.gov/3huXW.
Email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. For further inquiries, email Patty.Dornbusch@noaa.gov or call 503-230-5430.
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