Salmon

Rick Bowmer / AP Images


  Getting hatchery Snake River sockeye salmon from Idaho to the Pacific Ocean and back again is no easy task. A new hatchery that costs $14 million opened in 2013 to add another million fish each year going out of the Gem State. The first fish from the hatchery started coming back to the Sawtooth Valley this year. As of last week, only 15 sockeye had come home. We talk with Idaho Statesman special correspondent Rocky Barker about the factors making the process more challenging.

Roger Phillips / Idaho Fish and Game

Every year at this time, biologists at Idaho Fish and Game watch closely for Snake River sockeye salmon to return to Idaho. This year, Fish and Game expects fewer fish to return to Redfish Lake. That’s due in part to the tough year the young fish had in 2017, trying to get out of Idaho to the Pacific Ocean. Now two years later, they still have to swim back over several dams to get to Idaho.

Until a few decades ago, the killer whales of the Puget Sound were frequently captured by the dozen and sold for entertainment at marine parks across the U.S. Today, these incredible creatures are the subject of new protections, and increased scientific inquiry.  But their waters remain under threat. Pollution and marine traffic continue to wraek havoc, and orcas’ ability to thrive is still very much in doubt.


Roger Tabor / USFWS

Idaho and Oregon have worked out a deal to keep operating the Hells Canyon Complex on the Snake River.

 

John Lillis / Flickr Creative Commons

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.

Charles Anderson / Flickr Creative Commons

Earlier this week, the U.S House of Representatives passed passed a bill allowing permit holders to kill sea lions along the Columbia and Willamette Rivers in an effort to protect threatened fish populations.

 

Bryan Wright / Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

Republican Sen. Jim Risch is sponsoring a bill that would make it easier for federal fishery managers to kill sea lions that could prey on salmon and steelhead. Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington has also signed on in support of the proposal.

 


Nicholas K. Geranios / AP Images

A decades-long debate over four Snake River dams and salmon resurfaced on the floor of the U.S. House Wednesday. A bill from Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Washington) would prohibit removal or other structural changes of dams on the Federal Columbia River Power System.

Aaron Kunz / EarthFix

Idaho officials have reached a tentative agreement approving a utility company's $216.5 million in relicensing expenses for a three-dam hydroelectric project on the Snake River on the Idaho-Oregon border.

Rocky Barker

Removing the four lower Snake River dams could be enough to bring salmon stocks back from the brink of extinction. That’s one conclusion from reporter Rocky Barker’s series on the fish in the Idaho Statesman, which wrapped up this month.

Sara Simmonds / Idaho Fish and Game

The first two sockeye salmon to make it home from the Pacific Ocean in 2017 have arrived in the Stanley Basin. It’s a rough year for the fish.

Jackie Johnston / AP Images

A debate about four Washington state dams has put the spotlight back on a longstanding story about salmon. The Idaho Statesman has begun a series about the endangered species, which asks whether destroying the dams will be enough to save the fish. Frankie Barnhill sat down with Statesman reporter Rocky Barker to learn more about what’s at stake.
 

Ken Cole / Western Watersheds Project

An environmental group and the U.S. Forest Service have agreed to a deal to help fish in the Salmon River.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife / Associated Press

Organizers of a wolf- and coyote-shooting contest in east-central Idaho say they're looking at other parts of the state for similar contests on U.S. Forest Service land following a federal court ruling.

"Having this lawsuit out of the way and having this legal precedent, we will probably consider it a lot greater now," Steve Alder, Idaho for Wildlife's executive director, said Tuesday.

U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Bush in a 20-page ruling late last month said Idaho for Wildlife didn't need a permit from the U.S. Forest Service to hold the contest.

Associated Press

Environmental groups are asking a federal court to halt 11 infrastructure projects on four lower Snake River dams in Washington state that could ultimately be removed if a pending review determines the dams need to come out in order to help salmon.

The 45-page notice filed late Monday in Portland, Oregon, estimates the cost of the projects at $110 million.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

The migration of sockeye salmon from their birth in Idaho’s Redfish Lake to the Pacific Ocean ties Oregon, Washington and the Gem State together. But that trek is a brutal one that kills many fish each year, and advocates say their journey is made more difficult by four federally run dams on the Snake River in Washington.

Salmon
Aaron Kunz / EarthFix

In May, a federal judge ordered dam operators in the Northwest to put all options back on the table to save endangered salmon. That means giving a close look at four dams on the lower Snake River. Now, Boiseans will have the chance to weigh in on the proposal.

The debate over the best way to protect salmon has been caught in court battles for the last 20 years.

Chinook Salmon, fish
Pacific Northwest National Lab / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho anglers looking to catch chinook this fall are in luck. 

Compared to last year, fewer chinook salmon are expected to return to the Snake River basin this fall. But Idaho Fish and Game Commissioners still plan to open a fishing season on parts of the Snake, Clearwater and Salmon rivers. The season opens September 1.

Altogether, a total of 32,000 hatchery and wild chinook are expected to complete the journey to Idaho. Last year 59,000 fish were counted.

Caro / Flickr Creative Commons

Members of the Coeur d'Alene Tribe have started a 100-plus-mile journey in hand-carved canoes to call attention to the tribe's interest in restoring salmon to the Columbia River above Grand Coulee Dam.

The dam has blocked fish passage in the river since the 1930s.

Roger Phillips / Idaho Department of Fish and Game

It was a bad year for endangered sockeye salmon making their way home on the Columbia River. Unusually warm water in Northwest Rivers this summer killed off most of the returning fish. But quick action by fish managers means the few that survived could produce a record number of smolts.

This year was supposed to be a record run, with 4,000 fish headed home to Idaho from the Pacific Ocean. But in early July, water temperatures heated up in the Columbia system and the fish started to die off.

Screenshot MTB Project / BLM/MTB Project/International Mountain Bike Association

The Bureau of Land Management wants to get more people riding mountain bikes on 20 trail systems around the West. The agency has a new set of bike maps to show off those trails, including two in Idaho.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Dozens of people in boats, kayaks, and canoes will join a flotilla Saturday on the Snake River to protest four dams that advocates say are killing fish and costing taxpayers money.

Greg Stahl is with Idaho Rivers United, one of the groups putting on the flotilla. He says most people don’t know much about the four dams on the river between Lewiston, Idaho and Pasco, Washington, in part because of their remote location.

A conservation easement has been signed on an east-central Idaho ranch that's been a top priority for state and federal authorities for years because it contains prime spawning streams for threatened salmon and steelhead.

The agreement between the Bonneville Power Administration and ranch owner Karl Tyler signed last week protects 10 miles of the meandering Lemhi River and half a dozen tributaries.

Lorraine Bodi of Bonneville Power says the agency paid several million dollars for the easement.

Chris Willey / Flickr Creative Commons

The migration of sockeye salmon from the ocean to inland parts of the Northwest has been deadly this year. Hotter than normal temperatures early in the summer warmed up low-flowing rivers, and more than a quarter million sockeye are dead or dying in the Columbia River and its tributaries.

But Idaho Fish and Game biologist Mike Peterson says the conditions are allowing scientists to observe just how resilient salmon can be in warmer water.

Jerry McFarland / Flickr

More than a quarter million sockeye salmon returning from the ocean to spawn are either dead or dying in the Columbia River and its tributaries due to warming water temperatures.

Federal and state fisheries biologists say water that is 5 to 6 degrees warmer is wiping out at least half of this year's returning population of the cold-water species.

Ritchie Graves of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says up to 80 percent of the population could ultimately perish.

Officials are trying to cool flows by releasing cold water from selected reservoirs.

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