Currently, there are 120,000 young Coho salmon swimming in two ponds near the confluence of Early Winters Creek and the Methow River. They are acclimating to the chemical signatures and cues from the stream water for a very specific reason: Next fall they will return to this spot to spawn – only after they swim to the Pacific Ocean and back.
While the 1 ½-year-old fish are acclimating, they are growing and getting stronger on a daily ration of high-quality fish food in addition to the various insects and invertebrates that are available naturally. Dinnertime is a veritable fish frenzy!
By the late 1900s, the once prolific indigenous Coho salmon no longer occupied the mid- and upper-Columbia River basins. The fish being prepared for their journey on Wilson Ranch are part of a Coho reintroduction program by the Yakama Nation in conjunction with several partners, including, Bonneville Power, public utility districts, Department of Fish and Wildlife, and private landowners.
Yakama Nation’s long-term vision for Coho reintroduction is: “To re-establish naturally spawning Coho populations in mid-Columbia tributaries to biologically sustainable levels which provide significant harvest in most years.”
Rick Alford, a local Methow biologist with Yakama Nation Fisheries, enthusiastically describes this 25-year re-introduction program as one that could not be accomplished without the support of many advocates. “I cannot emphasize enough how important the public has been for this program,” he said.
This is the second year of a three-year release program. Last year’s released fish will return this fall as 3-year-olds rich with minerals and vitamins from the ocean. They will make their way to Early Winters Creek where they will spawn and die (from exhaustion, maybe?). Alford calls this a “huge building back” of the natural production in rivers.
The mission of the Yakama Nation in this re-introduction project is twofold: restore culturally important fish populations, and protect the right of the Yakama Nation members to utilize these resources in accordance with the Treaty of 1855.
The 1855 treaty confederated 14 tribes and bands into the Yakama Nation while the U.S. government took away 11 million acres of land that the tribes and their ancestors had lived on for thousands of years. Left with a reservation one-tenth the original size, a redeeming feature of the treaty was the preservation of tribal members’ rights to fish and gather food in the ceded area. Returning Coho salmon to the upper Methow is considered a vital responsibility to the Yakama Nation as stewards of the salmon and the Columbia.
It will be a celebratory time this coming fall when the first of the fish complete their journey and begin arriving back in Early Winters Creek.
Kaboom! On Thursday (April 30) at about 1:30 p.m., the Methow Valley and many other communities in Washington, British Columbia, Idaho, and Oregon shook with a thunderous boom. A few lucky ones actually saw the brilliant fireball, which is a very bright meteor, flameout across a brilliant blue sky. A total of 47 witnesses reported what they saw and heard to the American Meteor Society including Donna W. from Twisp and Cynthia N. from Winthrop.
One witness reported, “It was a bright white ball that flashed across the sky (1 to 2 sec) less than a minute later the loudest sonic boom followed.”
In uncertain times, where nothing seems impossible, I heard some worry of “what was that – a bomb?” Fortunately, not – just a natural phenomenon.
In case anybody wonders, I finished coloring my 30 days of cats. Maybe one day they will be on display in some kind of a COVID-19 Museum.