Sockeye Salmon

Courtney Flatt / EarthFix

This year was supposed to be one of the biggest returns in 40 years for the endangered Idaho sockeye salmon. But it’s not turning out that way. Only a fraction of these fish have survived their journey up the Columbia and Snake rivers. The biggest problems: warm waters. Now dam and fish managers and tribes are in a race against time to save the few remaining fish. 

Idaho's Snake River sockeye were nearly wiped out in the 1990s. But now these salmon are on their way back. Officials released a new recovery plan Monday.

At one point, the sockeye run returning to spawn in Idaho's Redfish Lake was down to just one fish. They called him Lonesome Larry.

The species was listed as endangered, and a captive breeding program was designed to rebuild the population.

Tom Flagg is a manager with NOAA Fisheries. He says that program has paid off. Last year, more than 1,500 sockeye returned.

NOAA Fisheries West Coast/Flickr

The U.S. Secretary of Commerce has declared the Fraser River sockeye salmon run a “fishery disaster”. The Fraser River empties out near Vancouver, British Columbia. But the salmon from that river are a key resource for the state and tribal fishing industries in Washington.

First Sockeye Reach Idaho's Stanley Basin

Jul 30, 2012
Photo by Aaron Kunz / EarthFix

The first sockeye arrived in Idaho’s Salmon River this week -- That’s later than usual. EarthFix Reporter Aaron Kunz explains.

Lonesome Larry Hits 20-Year Anniversary

Jul 19, 2012
Photo by Aaron Kunz / Northwest News Network

This year is the twenty year anniversary of Lonesome Larry, a lone sockeye salmon that made the 800 mile trip from the ocean to Redfish Lake in central Idaho. It helped jump start a multi-billion dollar effort to save Snake River salmon from certain extinction. Earthfix reporter Aaron Kunz explains.