Lower Snake Passage Report 6/13/17

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lower granite dam
Spring Chinook Salmon passage at Lower Granite Dam

Spring Chinook Salmon

The spring Chinook salmon run continues on the lower Snake River.  As of 6/11/17, 20,617 spring Chinook adults had passed Lower Granite Dam on their journey east to spawning grounds in Washington, Idaho and Oregon.  In 2016, 58,602 fish had passed by this time.  This was similar to the 10 year average of 57,481.  It represents a 65% reduction between 2017 and 2016.

Season Closures

As a result, Idaho Fish and Game officials closed most of the spring Chinook salmon season in the Clearwater Basin.  This is devastating to small  Idaho towns like Orofino, Kamiah, Kooskia, and Elk City.  They depend upon a robust fishing season to bring anglers from around the Pacific Northwest.  Anglers spend money on lodging, gas, groceries, and fishing supplies.

Idaho Department of Fish and Game biologist Brett Bowersox at Lewiston said the run returning to the Clearwater Basin continues to show lower-than-average survival between Bonneville and Lower Granite dams – so poor that the state’s share of the harvestable surplus already has been exhausted. The closure also will help ensure hatcheries get an adequate number of spawners, known as broodstock, to produce the next generation of springers.”   -Eric Barker, Lewiston Tribune

Chinook Salmon are a keystone species.  Orcas, bears, and a host of birds depend upon their survival each year. Consequently, as the salmon runs decline, so do these other dependent species.  The single greatest action to save the endangered salmon is the removal of the four lower Snake River dams.  Recovery of salmon becomes more difficult each year they stay in place.