Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Salmon Back in Big Springs Creek

Welcome home, salmon.

The Nature Conservancy has been working with partners in the Pahsimeroi River to remove barriers to fish migration, increase river flows when salmon are in the river and to reconnect tributary streams with the Pahsimeroi so salmon can access them.

The goal, of course, was to allow migrating salmon access to spawning areas they haven’t been able to reach for decades.

Has it worked?

Last year, salmon counts in the Upper Pahsimeroi revealed one salmon redd (spawning area) in Big Springs Creek.

For years, one or two hardy salmon made it up to Big Springs Creek. A diversion and cross ditch kept the rest of the salmon out of this habitat.

This year (with the diversion removed), preliminary counts show 69 redds—with salmon occupying much of the suitable habitat in Big Springs Creek and other tributaries.

This result was also made possible by the Conservancy’s purchase of a ranch in the Pahsimeroi Valley, which it then sold to organic beef ranchers Glenn and Caryl Elzinga. This partnership enabled the elimination of the diversion and cross ditch.

Almost half of the redds are located on Big Springs Ranch, recently protected by the Conservancy through a conservation easement.

So this year, we can truly say: Welcome home, salmon.

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