Salmon Returns at Bonneville
BONNEVILLE DAM -- Northwest salmon fishery managers have plenty to celebrate this fall: The region's salmon runs shattered modern-day records this year, returning to the Columbia River Basin in the highest numbers since fish counting began at Bonneville Dam more than 75 years ago.
This year's run of about 2.3 million salmon and steelhead exceeds the previous record of 2.1 million set in 2011, according to the Fish Passage Center. This year also brought a new single-day record, when 67,521 adult fall Chinook passed by Bonneville Dam on Sept. 8 -- the highest one-day total in more than seven decades.
To celebrate this abundance, tribal and federal agency leaders and other river users gathered Sept. 30 at Bonneville Dam to welcome back the salmon and celebrate the collaboration that has helped significantly boost the number of salmon returning to Northwest rivers and streams.
The strong collaboration continues to improve habitat and future prospects for many species, including those still listed under the Endangered Species Act.
Notably, tribal biologists are excited about the increasing number of natural origin fall Chinook returning to spawning grounds throughout the Columbia River Basin. For Snake River fall Chinook specifically, returns of natural origin fish are setting modern-day records -- returning in recent years in the highest numbers since Snake River dam construction began.
This year's run should be close to last year's record return.
Guests toured two areas that normally are closed to the public: the Adult Fish Sampling Facility, where Tribal Fish Technicians identify, measure and tag returning salmon, and the juncture at which Tanner Creek meets the Bonneville Fish Hatchery, where salmon swim from the creek into the hatchery.
The total 2014 fish counts include Chinook, sockeye, steelhead and coho salmon, although Chinook and sockeye account for the majority of the returns. Individual runs of Columbia and Snake River sockeye also set new records, returning in the highest numbers since fish counting began.
What Northwest leaders are saying about the modern-day record salmon returns:
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