Sockeye, the record
Saturday, July 14, 2012View full version
We are witness to a historic event, even if it is submerged. We have sockeye salmon swimming toward us by the hundreds of thousands. The cumulative count at Bonneville Dam was just a shade below 508,000 fish on Friday, the largest sockeye run in the Columbia since, well, no one knows. It far surpasses the largest run since the first dam was built. The last comparable run was perhaps 1923, according to the Columbia Basin Bulletin, but that’s a guess. Certainly, few people now living have seen a Columbia sockeye run anything like this.
Most of those salmon are headed to Lake Osoyoos in the Okanogan Valley. They will pass nine dams before they get there. About 10 percent are headed to Lake Wenatchee. These are almost entirely wild fish. The return of endangered sockeye to the Snake River is smaller than estimates, less than 300 fish, but still large compared with the slim years.
This is the result of improved fish management, much better downstream passage, habitat restoration and favorable ocean conditions. It shows, that for this run at least, dams and salmon can coexist. Just look at the river for evidence.
This is the opinion of The Wenatchee World and its Editorial Board: Publisher Rufus Woods, Editor Cal FitzSimmons and Editorial Page Editor Tracy Warner.