Sockeye, Chinook make way to Idahoby Associated Press
Idaho Statesman - August 2, 2001
KETCHUM -- Amid political posturing among Northwest politicians on salmon recovery, Snake River sockeye and summer chinook are quietly swimming toward their ancestral spawning grounds in the Sawtooth Valley.
More than 30 sockeye have been counted passing Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River, the last of eight dams the fish must cross on their journey home, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game reported.
Lower Granite sockeye counts are similar to the 10-year average but only 12 percent of the 2000 count for this time.
Summer chinook counts, on the other hand, are looking stronger than the 10-year average. By last Thursday, 72,709 had passed Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River. Bonneville is the first of the eight dams.
Still, the numbers of fish are small fractions of historic counts, which began to dwindle when the Snake and Columbia rivers were dammed in the mid-20th century.
Of the 30 sockeye, four have made it to Fish and Game's Sawtooth Valley traps, Sawtooth Fish Hatchery Manager Brent Snider said.
Nearly all returning sockeye and a significant number of returning chinook are hatchery-raised fish, not wild.
Snider said he expects the first chinook to return any day, and the run is expected to continue through August.
Meanwhile, Gov. Dirk Kempthorne and other Northwest politicians are championing legislation and better funding to help restore salmon populations.
On July 18, Kempthorne announced Idaho will receive more than $8 million from the Bonneville Power Administration to fund salmon-related projects in the Salmon River basin.
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