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Environment

Chinook Salmon Begin Spawning On A Wild Idaho River

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John Lillis
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Flickr Creative Commons
A boater takes a break on the banks of the Middle Fork of the Salmon River.

If you’re preparing to go on a float trip down the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, beware: The river’s namesake will be spawning below the surface for the next four weeks.

The Chinook salmon spawning nests, which are called redds, will be active through September 15. The Middle Fork Outfitters Association is warning anyone bringing a raft or kayak down that portion of the river to steer clear of the spawning areas.

According to a press release, U.S. Forest Service rangers will mark the spots to avoid by at least 25 feet.

The efforts to protect the chinook salmon centers around its protected status under the Endangered Species Act: The number of fish returning to the Middle Fork has declined significantly in recent decades. The threatened species is the subject of a multi-state fight over four dams on the Lower Snake River.

Middle Fork salmon are known for their resiliency and genetic make-up, which makes safeguarding their reproductive grounds all the more important to advocates. In each redd, female salmon lay more than 5,000 eggs – and the tiny fish hatch the next spring before making their way to the Pacific Ocean.

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Credit Middle Fork Outfitters Association
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Chinook salmon spawn every year in Idaho, but the numbers have declined in recent decades.

Find reporter Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill

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