Bringing back once-extinct coho

The Columbia Basin Bulletin

Touched with success, Yakama Nation Fisheries efforts to build returns of once-extinct coho salmon to the mid-Columbia River region are branching out, with hopes of infusing fish into the fingertips of central Washington’s Yakima River basin.

“More coho are venturing into the tributaries” of the upper Yakima River and one of its main tributaries, the Naches River, said Todd Newsome, Yakama Nation Fisheries’ lead for the Yakima Coho Project.

Last week the last of the gates were raised at four coho “acclimation” sites in the upper Yakima, allowing more than 1 million hatchery reared coho smolts to decide when to launch their migration toward the Pacific Ocean. With good fortune many will grow and mature for a return trip to spawn in the wild, and/or offer themselves as broodstock for a next generation of hatchery fish to buoy the reintroduction effort.

Coho salmon were in 1985 judged extinct in the Yakima River basin, due in large part to overfishing and human development that sapped streams of water, threw up barriers to upstream passage and otherwise altered key habitat.

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