Science | July 17, 2022 6:00 am

Chinook Salmon Returned to McCloud River for the First Time in 80 Years

The species is endangered and faces harsh drought conditions

Chinook salmon
Chinook salmon elsewhere in California.
Dan Cook (USFWS)

Located in northern California, McCloud River is known for its striking surroundings, its long history and the population of fish found there, all of which have made it a destination for many an expedition. Over the course of several decades, the Nature Conservancy worked to preserve and cultivate the river’s fish, which has also included a limited amount of catch-and-release fishing in a small portion of the river.

Now, that population of fish is about to get a new addition. Or perhaps “an old addition” might be more apt. Until 1942, Chinook salmon could be found in the river. The Wintu who have long called the region home relied on salmon as part of their diet for years, but the construction of the Shasta Dam changed things.

As the Los Angeles Times reports, a new effort from wildlife officials and the Winnemem Wintu Tribe has re-introduced Chinook salmon into the river. This week, 20,000 eggs were moved from a hatchery to the river in the hopes that the salmon will take to the environment there.

The article points out that this is one of several measures taken to address the salmon’s endangered status, which is further exacerbated by drought conditions. It’s a wide-ranging effort with contributions from an array of groups — and if it succeeds, it could both transform an aquatic landscape and help preserve a species with a storied history.