It's been an exciting few years for proponents of wild salmon in the Pacific Northwest. With several high profile dam removal projects changing the landscape of salmon recovery both literally and figuratively. Two of the more high profile projects on the Columbia include the removal of Condit Dam on the White Salmon River last fall, and the construction of a state of the art fish passage facility at the Pelton Round Butte dam on the Deschutes. Both projects are providing access to habitat not seen by fish for the better part of a century, and this fall both investments are starting to pay dividends.
This month the Columbia Basin Bulletin featured stories on recovery efforts on the White Salmon and the Deschutes. In the White Salmon, Tule Fall Chinook are spread out and spawning from the mouth to the base of Husum Falls, the historic upstream limit of their distribution with summer steelhead and spring chinook spawning above the falls. In order to expediate the recovery of ESA listed wild salmon and steelhead in the basin biologists and managers have opted for a recovery plan that relies entirely on wild salmon recolonizing historically accessible habitats.
On the Deschutes managers have been surprised by the number of Kokanee that have reverted to their original sea-going life history. In 2010, the first year of operation on the Pelton Round Butte passage project nearly 45,000 juvenile Kokanee made their way downstream as smolts and the following year more than 205,000 fish made their way to the ocean. Sockeye typically spend either 2 or 3 years at sea and this year biologists are witnessing the return of the first adult sockeye, fish which arose from an entirely wild resident population of kokanee.
More information on the White Salmon recovery in the CBB:
And more on the Upper Deschutes passage project as well: