Indian Country Today reports on another successful tribal effort to restore salmon. For the fifth year, citizens of the Confederated Colville Tribes in Washington state and their partners in the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service gathered on Omak Creek to welcome the return of spring Chinook salmon with the First Salmon Ceremony.
“Until 2005, the spring Chinook salmon, an anadromous fish that is the largest species in the salmon family, were unable to return to their home river to spawn because they were blocked by decades of fish passage barriers. The barriers were created in the 1920s by the construction of the railroad that opened up the west to expansion and development, and by years of dynamite explosions from mining excavations that sent rocks and boulders into Omak Creek, creating impassable barriers that cut the fish off from the upper reaches of the stream where they like to spawn. Beginning in the mid-90s, the tribe, the NRCS, and other agencies have worked to restore salmon access to 60 miles of the rocky-bottomed, fast-moving fresh water creek.”