* Contributed by Jason Lundgren, Cascade Fisheries
Historical estimates of salmon returning to the Columbia River basin range from 10-16 million, while modern returns average one million fish annually.
The concept of nutrient enhancement involves distributing either surplus hatchery salmon carcasses or salmon analog pellets to simulate the naturally dying salmon that would historically be present in streams.
This significant decrease in spawning salmon dying and decomposing in streams, like the Entiat River, results in a drastic reduction of marine-derived nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen.
These nutrients are critical for river ecosystems to support healthy communities of aquatic and terrestrial plants and animals. Salmon carcasses provide marine-derived nutrients for the entire river basin when animals such as eagles and bears consume and move carcasses into the forest.
The drastic reduction of naturally distributed carcasses and the nutrients released with their decay are a major limiting factor for the natural production of juvenile salmon throughout the Columbia River basin.
Currently, there are no plans to distribute salmon carcasses in the Entiat River, however, Cascade Fisheries and the US Fish and Wildlife-Entiat National Fish Hatchery would like to find beneficial uses for surplus hatchery salmon carcasses rather than sending them to the landfill.
For more information please contact Jason Lundgren, Executive Director, Cascade Fisheries at [email protected].