Author: Jillian Angeline, Gray TV (KMVT)

WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Idaho Fish and Game cancelled the salmon fishing season on the Upper Salmon River and on the South Fork of Salmon River this year. The effort was made in an effort to protect the dwindling salmon populations returning from the Pacific Ocean.

“This is a devastating thing for us, the entire Clearwater Basin part of Idaho. It’s part of the culture, it’s a significant part of the economy,” Rep. Russ Fulcher (R-Idaho) said.
This is not the first time salmon populations have dwindled. Leaders acknowledge the numbers may have been declining due to the increase in dams along rivers leading to the Pacific Ocean. The dams make it harder for the salmon to swim back to Idaho to spawn.
Fulcher said there are a number of initiatives at the federal and state level to ensure healthy populations of salmon going forward.

“There’s a salmon working group right now, and depending on who you speak with, different causes have impacted the population of these fish, everything from weather conditions, to ocean conditions, to the dam operations, the list going on and on and on,” said Fulcher.

Officials have acknowledged another blow to the salmon fishing season in Idaho is the coronavirus pandemic. Many people are concerned about traveling, according to Idaho Fish and Game. Rep. Fulcher said tour guides are struggling because of this. He said although some were able to receive help from the Paycheck Protection Program, he is worried about the future impacts of the pandemic.

“A prolonged continuation of this could put them out of business for good, so this is a big concern for us,” he said.

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