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Window on the West.

* For Al Adams, hefting a spawned-out Pacific salmon from Washington's Hamma Hamma River is a bittersweet experience. Bitter, because now that it has finished breeding, the fish is about to die; sweet, because the fish is there at all.

A century ago, vast runs of salmon navigated the Hamma Hamma every month of the year. There were chinook, silver, pink, and summer and fall chum salmon by the thousands, along with steelhead and sea-run cutthroat trout (both technically also salmon). By the 1990s, most of the Hamma Hamma's runs had crashed. Six months of the year, there were no spawning Pacific salmon at all. In the other half of the year, runs of 10 or 20 fish were all that remained for most species.

To restore the Hamma Hamma's indigenous salmon, Adams became a charter member of the Hood Canal Salmon Enhancement Group, created in 1990. By hatching salmon eggs in innovative, trash-can-size containers developed by Washington State Fisheries, the group is rebuilding the runs. Volunteers rear the tiny fish in stream-fed pools; this environment, more natural than fish hatcheries' concrete raceways, nurtures healthier salmon that return to streams in higher numbers than do hatchery fish. In 1998, for example, the Hamma Hamma's chinook run increased from 10 to 350 fish.

To learn more about the group's techniques (which work even in backyard streams), call (360) 275-3575.
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Title Annotation:restore salmon in Washington river
Author:McCausland, Jim
Publication:Sunset
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1U9WA
Date:Nov 1, 1999
Words:227
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