With the end of coho salmon returns and the arrival of winter weather, we’re happy to report the 2013 Fall Salmon Toss was a success. With funding from the Portland Water Bureau and assistance from Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the US Forest Service, we were able to bring out volunteers to toss over 1800 fish into tributaries of the Sandy River.
We receive the coho carcasses from the Sandy Fish Hatchery after the salmon return to spawn. This year we worked with the Northwest Steelheaders, Sam Barlow High School students, Portland Lutheran School students, SOLV Green Team, and Project YESS to distribute the fish in tributary streams of the upper Sandy and Zigzag watersheds.
This project benefits watershed health because it contributes to the in-stream nutrient cycle by increasing ocean-derived nutrient loads in places where a healthy salmon run historically would have supported life in the forest. Nutrients from the salmon carcasses settle into the stream sediment and are utilized by aquatic insects, vegetation, carnivores, and other fish through the food web. Salmon carcass distribution also helps the Portland Water Bureau achieve their habitat conservation goals of benefitting fish and enhancing in-stream productivity in the upper watershed to maximize the nutrient benefits downstream.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife maintains the Sandy Hatchery, in order to “mitigate loss of fishing and harvest opportunities due to loss of habitat and migration blockage resulting from the Columbia Basin hydropower system, and to augment fishing and harvest opportunities on the Sandy River.”
To learn more about the benefits of salmon carcass nutrients in our river systems, read this article from the Native Fish Society.