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Help save the salmon

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The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and a local conservation group want your help fishing for salmon.

It's all part of an effort to keep the salmon population healthy in the Hanford Reach.

Reeling in a fish in the Hanford reach now means more than just what's for dinner.

At the Priest Rapids Hatchery on the Columbia River less than five percent of the fall Chinook salmon have wild genes.

"Hatchery fish, to improve you need to get these wild genetics in there. It helps the hatchery fish. They have better spawning success. They're more able to go to the ocean and come back again. So really the best thing for our hatcheries and our natural population is to try and get a good intermixing," said Paul Hoffarth, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

"It's important that we maintain our salmon population and make sure we have fish returning to spawn. If we didn't the whole ecosystem could collapse," said Nathan Grimm, Coastal Conservation Association.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Coastal Conservation Association are asking fishermen to throw them a line, by catching wild salmon for their project to diversify the gene pool.

Once the fish are caught, they're quickly brought ashore to this transport tank. And then the salmon taken to the hatchery.

"Trying to have the man power to do these projects is difficult. Especially one like this where you need multiple anglers, many boats, to come out and try to get the numbers of fish we need," Hoffarth said.

The project needs 400 fish by next week. On Sunday they'd caught less than ten.

"This is my way of giving back, making sure that my kids, future generations, have the ability to experience the outdoors like I do," Grimm said.

The largest population of wild Chinook salmon in the U.S. outside of Alaska is here in the Northwest. But officials say if we don't do our part, we could lose one of the species that defines our region.

If you want to help, register with the WDFW District Biologist Paul Hoffarth by phone or email.

(509) 545-2284

The project goes through October 21st from 6am to 3pm at the Vernita Boat Launch.