the film


Commentaries and editorials

Salmon Runs

by Don Chapman
Idaho Statesman, May 31, 2019

Chinook salmon is a favorite catch for Idaho anglers. (Pete Zimowsky photo) The Middle Fork Salmon River is a refugium for wild spring/summer Chinook salmon. Two decades of work by the state of Idaho, U.S. Forest Service and Nez Perce Tribal biologists estimated the basin of the Middle Fork Salmon River could support up to 48,000 spawning fish.

The total spring Chinook count to the Columbia River basin this year will be close to 50,000 at Bonneville Dam. Wild fish make up less than a quarter of that total. Most of the Bonneville count will go to hatcheries.

The Middle Fork Salmon River contains some of the highest-quality spawning habitat that remains in the entire Columbia River Basin. Two decades of research on the Middle Fork clearly illustrates the cause of the decline in wild spring and summer Chinook lies out of the basin.

What factors are out of basin? Ocean conditions, main-stem Columbia River fishing, and the four lower Snake River dams are the principal ones. We cannot control ocean conditions. We can only reduce fishing as much as is politically feasible and breach the four lower Snake dams, if we have the will.

Map showing location of 4 lower Snake River dams and reservoirs being considered for removal

Don Chapman, McCall
Salmon Runs
Idaho Statesman, May 31, 2019

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