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NW Fishletter #380, April 2, 2018

[13] Tribal Plan To Release Salmon Above Grand Coulee Dam Discussed

After a 70-year absence, salmon may soon be swimming in the Columbia River Basin above Grand Coulee and Chief Joseph dams.

Cody Desautel, natural resource director for the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, told a reporter the tribe is planning to trap and haul salmon from the tribe's hatchery, and release them above both of the upper Columbia River dams that have blocked anadromous fish since they were built.

Meghan Francis, a spokeswoman for the tribe, said in an email to NW Fishletter that the news got out when a radio correspondent attended a recent event in Canada, where Desautel and Colville Tribal Chairman Michael Marchand briefly discussed the proposal. The tribe is declining interviews until more details are available, she said in the email.

The story, reported March 16 on public radio's Northwest News Network, said the tribe is waiting for one final permit.

The Colvilles have long sought fish passage above both Grand Coulee and Chief Joseph dams, which have largely prevented salmon from making their way to most of the Colville Indian Reservation. Tribal officials have said that up to 4 million fish were once harvested and consumed every year by native people in the region.

Two years ago, the Colvilles announced a renewed effort to bring salmon back to more than 1,100 miles of rivers and streams in the upper Columbia where they once spawned. Five inland tribes formed the Upper Columbia United Tribes, which has been pushing to include fish passage in a new Columbia River Treaty. -K.C. M.

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