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Born to be wild: How science can inform recovery of Idaho salmon and steelhead

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Spring/Summer Chinook Salmon
WEBINAR: June 13 at 10am - 11:15am MST

Scientists Russ Thurow and Rick Williams discuss the scientific foundation supporting an ecologically based salmon and steelhead recovery effort.

Historically, the Columbia River basin (including the Snake and Salmon Rivers) was the most productive Chinook salmon habitat in the world. By 1995, fewer than 1,200 wild Chinook salmon returned and today all Snake River populations are at risk of extirpation and federally listed under the Endangered Species Act. Federal Agencies consider the “four H’s” (harvest, habitat degradation, hatchery practices, and hydro) the primary causes of salmon declines. Rick describes the history, status, and trends of salmon and steelhead populations in the Columbia and Snake River basins. He discusses the scientific foundation supporting an ecologically based salmon and steelhead recovery effort. Russ focuses on Chinook salmon populations within the Middle Fork Salmon River basin (MFSR) in Central Idaho. He describes results of long-term scientific research to advance knowledge of the landscape and local biophysical conditions and processes that influence salmon habitat, and the distribution, diversity, persistence, and recovery of salmon. MFSR research results illustrate that essential building blocks for recovery persist in the MFSR, however, recovery is limited by outside-basin factors. These data may be applied to inform effective salmon recovery strategies.


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Russ Thurow
Russ Thurow
Fisheries Scientist with the USFS Rocky Mountain Research Station

Russ Thurow is a Fisheries Research Scientist with the USFS- Rocky Mountain Research Station in Boise, Idaho. For 35 years, his research has focused on understanding ecosystem function and aquatic species responses and on development of conservation and restoration strategies. Russ is very familiar with Central Idaho’s Middle Fork Salmon River basin and the ecology of its wild Chinook salmon and steelhead.

Rick Williams
Research Associate in the Department of Biology at the College of Idaho

Dr. Rick Williams is a Research Associate in the Department of Biology at The College of Idaho and lives in Eagle, Idaho.  His research and writing having focused on the conservation of native trout and salmon for more than 30 years.  Rick has worked on Columbia River salmon recovery issues since the 1980s and served on scientific review panels including the SRG, ISG, ISRP, and ISAB. In 2006, he edited “Return to the River: Restoring Salmon to the Columbia River.”