Idaho Statesman –
Research, tenacious advocates and $16 billion have lifted Columbia and Snake salmon from the brink of extinction, but we have yet to figure out a sustainable plan to save the fish that provide food and millions in business and ecological benefits.
Each year, young salmon and steelhead travel the many miles from the Idaho creeks where they were born to the Pacific Ocean. Mature adults make the trip in reverse, returning home to spawn. They pass through dams that generate carbon-free electricity and along rivers that farmers near Lewiston still use to ship grain to Pacific Ocean ports.
Over five months in 2017, we traveled the Northwest to introduce you to these fish, the rivers they and the region’s residents depend on, and the challenges we face together. Here is what we learned.
▪ Wild salmon are better off than they were in the late 1980s, when they were put on the endangered species list. Now, at least, there are more of them. Devices built to help salmon spill over eight dams on the Snake and Columbia rivers have made the trip easier. But in the past decade, the naturally spawning salmon in the Snake River Basin have not been able to replace themselves, even with good ocean and river conditions.