A salmon splashes its tail in a shallow part of the Sanpoil River, following an ancient pattern as it builds a nest, or redd. The salmon pushes lemon-sized pieces of gravel into a mound, burying the eggs underneath.
In many other rivers in Washington, this is a normal sight. That’s not the case here, where massive concrete dams stopped salmon from reaching these spawning grounds for around 80 years.
Now, the salmon have made it to this area with the help of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation.
In the Sanpoil River, these salmon are a welcome, hopeful sight, said Casey Baldwin, a research scientist for the Colville Confederated Tribe Fish and Wildlife Department
“We want them to do what salmon do elsewhere. And, that’s what we’ve observed so far,” Baldwin said, watching the fish slosh back and forth as sunlight glints off the water.