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Coquille Tribe launches 1,000 Chinook smolt into regional waters to offset decline

Video provided by Clark Walworth, Coquille Tribe.
In a still from a video shot June 15, 2022, Coquille tribal members Don Garrett, Chairman Brenda Meade and Health Hampel, president of the Coquille River STEP volunteers, release 1,000 juvenile Chinook salmon from an acclimation box into Lampa Creek, seven miles out from Bandon.

A thousand juvenile Chinook salmon were released last week in a creek near Bandon. It’s the latest effort by the Coquille Tribe to restore the fish’s numbers.

A tribal member sang a song to bless the salmon, which Coquille officials say are among the first of thousands more expected to be released this year. The 2021 spawning project was done with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and other partners, after surveys showed Chinook salmon numbers had fallen to near extinction in the area.

Photo provided by Clark Walworth, Coquille Tribe.
Coquille Tribal member Anne Niblett blesses the salmon with a song about shady trees and cool water.

In a video released by the tribe, Coquille tribal Chair Brenda Meade said she’s proud.

“Proud of the fact that we are all coming together as a community to make this happen because there’s no way the tribe could have done it by themselves," she said. "We gotta keep going though, this is just step one, it feels like baby-steps. But it’s the first thousand that are going out, and it’s something to celebrate.”

Invasive bass, climate change, and pollution are seen as factors in the decline of Chinook salmon.

Copyright @2022, KLCC.

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (19 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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