California Releases 2 Million Chinook Salmon into Klamath River

California Releases 2 Million Chinook Salmon into Klamath River

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The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has successfully released over 2 million fall-run Chinook salmon smolts into the Klamath River in Siskiyou County. The releases, which took place on May 15 and 22, were carried out below the Iron Gate Dam and marked a significant milestone in the state's efforts to boost salmon populations.

The salmon smolts, averaging just under 3 inches in length, were trucked from CDFW's new Fall Creek Fish Hatchery, which has already exceeded its production goal of 3.25 million salmon in its first year of operation. The hatchery's success is attributed to excellent water quality and improved efficiencies.

The releases were brought forward due to warming temperatures in the Klamath Basin and concerns over C. Shasta disease, a naturally occurring parasite that can affect young salmon. However, with the return of cooler temperatures, these concerns have been alleviated.

The dam removal process, which is ahead of schedule, is expected to open up hundreds of miles of new spawning and rearing habitat to salmon returning from the ocean as early as this fall.

CDFW plans to release another 250,000 to 300,000 yearling fall-run Chinook salmon later this year, potentially directly into Fall Creek, which has been inaccessible to salmon due to the Iron Gate Dam.

These efforts are part of the California Salmon Strategy for a Hotter, Drier Future, which aims to supplement in-river production and increase variability in hatchery releases at different salmon life stages.

The strategy also involves strong relationships with tribal partners and is critical for the long-term health of California's salmon populations.

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