Portland, OR– Columbia River salmon restoration efforts reached another milestone this morning when fall chinook set a new passage record at Bonneville Dam. The 25 adult fall chinook that had passed Bonneville Dam as of 9:05 am on Tuesday, November 10 pushed the total number of fall chinook to 953,240 fish for 2015. This breaks the previous record for the 77-year-old dam, set in 2013, of 953,222.
The fall chinook that pass Bonneville Dam continue on to rivers and streams throughout Columbia Basin in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. Their success is the result of a variety of environmental factors and human efforts to improve survival. This year’s fall chinook enjoyed excellent ocean conditions and, unlike the fish migrating during the summer, they enjoyed good migrating conditions. The fall chinook also benefitted from tribal efforts using hatcheries to rebuild naturally spawning populations throughout the Columbia River Basin, harvest management actions on the Pacific Ocean and mainstem Columbia, and strong collaborative efforts to improve habitat.
“Breaking this record today is truly something to celebrate,” said Paul Lumley, Executive Director of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. “The success of this fall chinook run reflects the region’s commitment to healthy salmon runs and the collaborative spirit that has made it possible. The tribes celebrate this year’s return and pledge to continue our protection and restoration work that helped make it possible. The lessons the region has learned in achieving the success we’ve seen so far will help us address upcoming impacts such as the predicted El Niño this winter and the long-term effects of climate change.”
This year also brought good news for the fall chinook returning to the Snake River, which were listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1992. Thanks to intensive restoration efforts by the Nez Perce Tribe, their numbers have rebounded since they were listed. This is evident by the 59,005 fall chinook that have passed Lower Granite Dam so far this year, which is the second largest cumulative return to that dam to date.