Tuesday April 30, 2024

The Columbian

In newly restored river channels on the Snoqualmie, baby Chinook salmon are confined in 19 enclosures about the size of large suitcases as they munch on little crustaceans and invertebrate insects floating or swimming by.

What’s in the salmon’s stomachs, tracked by scientists, could hold clues about the species’ survival.

The river channels near Fall City were excavated with heavy machinery and restored over the past two years — as part of the biggest habitat restoration project completed by King County. The channels span nearly a mile and give the river room to widen and narrow, and, crucially, provide slow-moving water with logs and plants in which juvenile salmon can thrive.

Puget Sound Chinook are threatened under the Endangered Species Act, so these new refuges could help sustain the fish and their importance to local tribes, as well as to endangered southern resident orcas, which depend on Chinook as a primary prey.

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