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    Author(s): Russell F. Thurow
    Date: 2015
    Source: Wilderness Advisory Group News, WAG Tales. Winter 2015: 6, 11.
    Publication Series: Magazines or Trade Publications
    Station: Rocky Mountain Research Station
    PDF: Download Publication  (623.0 KB)


    On a cool August morning, Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) fulfill an ancient ritual in the wilderness. Despite the rigors of an 850-mile journey, the female excavates a redd (nest) by moving stream gravels with her tail while males spar for a place beside her. In an ultimate act of nurturing, these salmon spawn and die, their bodies providing essential nutrients for the next generation of salmon and a host of other aquatic and terrestrial organisms. Northwest salmon have been performing this reproductive ritual for at least two million years, and in 2014 this place and these salmon are extraordinary. Idaho’s Middle Fork Salmon River flows through the heart of the 2.3 million acre Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness (the Frank), the largest contiguous wilderness in the lower 48 states. The Chinook salmon in the Middle Fork spawn as high as 6,000 feet, a higher elevation than any others. Genetically intact wild salmon like these are rare, persisting in just 4% of the Columbia River Basin’s historical spring/summer Chinook salmon habitat; all other populations have been extirpated or supplemented with hatchery-reared salmon.

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    Thurow, Russell F. 2015. Accountability across resources [Salmon and Wilderness: Sharing the responsibility, sharing the benefits]. Wilderness Advisory Group News, WAG Tales. Winter 2015: 6, 11.


    Chinook salmon, Oncorhynchus tshawytscha, landscapes, Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness

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