Canoeists focus on plight of upper Columbia salmon

2013-09-09T13:27:00Z Canoeists focus on plight of upper Columbia salmonBy RICH LANDERS/The Spokesman-Review
September 09, 2013 1:27 pm  • 

An expedition of canoeists and Native American students is leading an upstream effort advocating construction of a fish ladder at Grand Coulee Dam to reintroduce chinook salmon runs in the upper Columbia River.

On Aug. 2, five dugout canoes started a journey up the Columbia from Astoria to pay tribute to the salmon that have been barred from historic spawning grounds since the dam shut them off in 1935.

The expedition last week had canoed more than 545 miles to Chief Joseph Dam, the first Columbia dam without a fish ladder. At least two of the boats completed the portage around Grand Coulee Dam on Saturday. They're paddling up Lake Roosevelt past Keller Ferry and plan to arrive at Two Rivers by Monday night.

From the confluence of the Spokane and Columbia Rivers, the paddlers will head up the Spokane River to Little Falls - the first dam that blocked salmon from migrating up to Spokane Falls in 1910. Spokane Tribe school kids, who helped build one of the dugout canoes, plan to join the paddle.

The " Sea to the Source" expedition plans to continue its voyage toward Canal Flats, the source of the Columbia in British Columbia.

The crew consists of five river guides who oversee a river-based environmental education program called Voyages of Rediscovery. They are enlisting the muscle power of Indian Tribes, youths and other supporters along the way.

Indian Tribes propose a fish ladder at the dam be included in the rewriting of a U.S.-Canada treaty that's being renegotiated.

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