Wild Salmon Making Huge Comeback in California

Wild Salmon Making Huge Comeback in California

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Klamath river dam aerieal viewFor years, fishermen, farmers and hydroelectric dams were in a tug of war on the Klamath River in California. Finally, the once bitter enemies came together in compromise, even agreeing to the possible destruction of the dams.

The ensuing years of conservation efforts helped to create a chinook salmon population boom last October that saw thousands of them moving up river every day — nearly double the size of any annual run since 1978.

Based on the agreement, the Department of the Interior released the Final Environmental Impact Statement on April 4 and it recommended full removal of four privately owned hydroelectric facilities in the Klamath Basin.

The now-three-year-old Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement laid out the process for determining whether the removal of the facilities would advance the restoration of salmon fisheries and how it would impact local communities and tribes. Signed in February of 2010 by more than 40 entities, including the states of Oregon and California, PacifiCorp, three Indian Tribes, irrigation communities, fishing communities, and non-governmental organizations, the agreement called for a robust scientific evaluation of the potential removal of these facilities.

The salmon bonanza in California follows on the successful restoration of once-robust fisheries in Washington state last year following the largest dam removal project in U.S., which gave the migratory chinook and steelhead trout a chance to spawn up river in large numbers once again.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar called on Congress, which needs to authorize the dam removal as part of  the final agreement.

(WATCH the video below from NBC Nightly News)

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