I got this “FYI” from Jim Harbeck at Nez Perce Fisheries here in Joseph last night:
“The first Coho Salmon to return to the Lostine River in over 40 years came back home this morning… I think we’ll see at least a few hundred Coho this fall at our weir on the Lostine. And more importantly, once again the Nez Perce Tribe is proving to be a good steward here in Wallowa County. This fish returned to a reach of river just below old Chief Joseph’s original burial site. I’m sure he’d be proud of his people for this significant accomplishment (and Ken Witty would be too).”
Ken Witty was a long-time fish biologist for the State of Oregon, and did some consulting with the tribe after his retirement.
It’s a long story. 1855 Treaty; Fish Wars of the 70s (which Alvin Josephy wrote about); Boldt Decision awarding half the salmon catch to the tribes; Nez Perce, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla, and other tribal fishery programs ramping up; mitigation money from Bonneville Power—and events like this!
I could go on, but encourage you to do so on your own. For now, we celebrate the return of the Coho Salmon to the Lostine River.
|First Lostine River Coho in over 40 years!|
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When I lived in Pine Valley, I was smitten with William Ashworth’s 1977 account (in his book, cited below) of local people who used their trucks to try to save salmon going up the Snake. They used, according to Ashworth, tarp-lined pickup beds to portage salmon upstream when they breached at the, then, new dam. No fish ladders. I wonder if anyone who partook is still alive who helped.
I had already grown fond of the place and people but this account made me weep, made me love the local people even more.
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