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Yakama fisheries restore salmon to Yakima basin

US - The Yakama Nation Fisheries Program is putting back about 300,000 coho salmon into Tucquala Lake in a bid to rectify the damage done by dams barring the migratory fish from the Yakima River Basin headwaters.

The experiment sponsored by the local tribe aims to re-establish fish populations in the basin and in waters above Cle Elum in the central Cascades.

Seattlepi says that dams have kept fish from the headwaters for more than 100 years.

There are now five dams barring the way to the fish and none of them have fish passages.

Fish returning to spawn will be captured below Cle Elum Dam and trucked around it.

"This is both culturally and spiritually important to the nation," Dave Fast, senior research scientist for the Yakama fisheries program is reported on Seattlepi.

Restoring historical fish runs would also bring back tribal fishing opportunities.

Re-establishing sockeye salmon is the ultimate goal, said Mark Johnston, a tribal fisheries biologist. Next year, 250,000 young sockeye will be scattered across Lake Cle Elum.

With the tribe's support, the Bureau of Reclamation introduced a test batch of 10,000 coho into Lake Cle Elum in 2005. A small group returned from the ocean to spawn, the report says.

View the Seattlepi story by clicking here.

Ellen Hardy

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