Survey Shows High Salmon Numbersby Staff
Idaho Mountain Express, March 19, 2016
The number of fall Chinook salmon-spawning areas in the Snake River and key tributaries below Hells Canyon Dam is the highest recorded since surveys began in 1991, according to an annual survey conducted by Idaho Power, state and federal wildlife officials and the Nez Perce Tribe.
According to a news release from Idaho Power, its biologists used a small unmanned aircraft to take video of the nesting areas, called redds, which was then analyzed to determine how many redds were present.
The salmon swim about 500 river miles from the Pacific Ocean up the Columbia and Snake rivers to spawn. Females clear the gravel on the river bottom to create an area in which to lay eggs. These round nesting areas are visible from above the river and can be counted to give an indication as to how many fish have returned to spawn.
The numbers have improved dramatically since early surveys revealed only a few dozen redds in the Snake River basin below Hells Canyon Dam. This year, surveyors recorded 9,345 redds. The previous high mark, set last year, was 6,715.
The most recent survey, concluded in December, is the first time that Idaho Power has conducted its part of the survey solely using a drone-mounted camera.
For more information about Idaho Power's Fall Chinook Flow Program, visit www.idahopower.com/ourenvironment and click "Fish and Aquatic Life."
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