An educational opportunity associated with the Pacific Northwest Salmon Center’s Tahuya Summer Chum Reintroduction Project is approaching as the Olympic College Environmental Club will take a field trip to learn about the process of raising summer chum salmon. “Community and student involvement in ecological restoration and conservation is a core goal of the Salmon Center,” states Teresa Sjostrom, salmon and steelhead biologist for the Salmon Center.
An adult salmon trap on the Union River has been operated 24 hours a day by volunteers from mid-August to mid-October every year since 2000. Starting in 2003, the Union River summer chum run has reintroduced summer chum to the nearby Tahuya River, where their return had previously dwindled to near zero. Each year since then, approximately 50 pairs of summer chum have been collected from the Union River trap and spawned so that their offspring can be released into the Tahuya River. The offspring are initially raised at George Adams Hatchery near Shelton by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and then they are moved to a remote site where they acclimate to the water of the Tahuya River. The fish are released in February and March and quickly migrate to the estuary and on to the ocean to feed and grow. Currently, Salmon Center volunteers are caring for the young fish by feeding and monitoring them daily.
Following 17 annual Tahuya summer chum returns of near zero, the run has increased substantially starting in 2006 with the first returns from the project. “The success of the Summer Chum Reintroduction Project is a direct result of the thousands of hours that volunteers have donated to this project over the past 12 years,” said Teresa.
The Pacific Northwest Salmon Center strives to enhance public appreciation for wild salmon, healthy ecosystems, and sustainable living. A key goal of the Salmon Center is to provide opportunities for community involvement and education within the setting of salmon restoration, represented by the Tahuya Summer Chum Reintroduction Project. The next major opportunity to volunteer with the Salmon Center’s fish monitoring efforts is the installation and daily sampling of juvenile salmon traps on the Dewatto, Tahuya, and Little Quilcene rivers from late March through May.