Idaho chinook, steelhead in trouble

Magic Valley –

Idaho salmon and steelhead are in trouble. Several years of warm ocean temperatures are a big reason why alarmingly few smolts have made it back to the Gem State as adults since 2015.

Idaho Fish and Game Wild Salmon and Steelhead Program Coordinator Tim Copeland said warm oceans aren’t good for chinook salmon and steelhead survival rates. Until a few years ago, the species were doing relatively well.

“When you’re working with salmon and steelhead, you kind of have to take what the ocean gives you,” Copeland told the Times-News.

Copeland was one of a handful of salmon and steelhead experts who spoke before Gov. Brad Little’s salmon and steelhead workgroup in Twin Falls last week. The workgroup aims to provide the governor’s office with recommendations for revitalizing threatened and endangered fish populations and includes members representing hydroelectric power, environmental groups, agriculture, tribes and sportsmen.

Idaho Conservation League Executive Director Justin Hayes is a member of the workgroup. He said that he feels good about the collaborative process, but emphasized the situation is dire.

“(These species) are going extinct, and, at this rate, will be gone in our generation,” Hayes said.

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