Sunday, July 21, 2019
Learn About the Precipitous Steelhead Decline
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Wednesday, May 1, 2019
 

STORY BY KAREN BOSSICK

PHOTO BY ED NORTHEN

Dramatic. Abysmal.

Those, unfortunately, are the words fishermen vocalize when they talk about the decline of the Snake River’s wild steelhead.

In the early 1960s more than a 100,000 wild steelhead returned to the Snake River. In 2018 only 11,719 wild steelhead had passed Lower Granite Dam by Nov. 15. And fewer than 2,000 of those were the large B-run steelhead coveted by anglers.

Alan Byrne, anadromous fish manager for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, will offer a free presentation on the status of steelhead runs in Idaho from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, May 2, at Whiskey Jacques in Ketchum.

The program comprises the May meeting of the Hemingway Chapter Trout Unlimited.

Wild steelhead must pass eight dams on the Snake River to reach their spawning grounds, and those dams take a heavy toll. The last four dams are particularly problematic, says Chris Wood, CEO of Trout Unlimited.

Lower Granite is the last one they must cross in order to reach the promised land of several thousand miles of five-star habitat that await them in the Snake River Basin.

Of course, the dams are not the only cause of their decline.

Wood says work needs to be done to reduce losses to predators and harvesters downstream in the Columbia. And hatcheries need to be reformed if Snake River salmon and steelhead are to return to healthy fishable levels.

 

 

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