Salmon carcasses will enhance Tucannon River nutrients - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Salmon carcasses will enhance Tucannon River nutrients

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DAYTON, WA - More than 700 adult salmon carcasses from hatchery spawning will be distributed in southeast Washington's Tucannon River on January 27 to enhance nutrients in the waterway for fish.

Volunteers from the Tri-State Steelheaders (TSS), a local non-profit organization, and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) staff will distribute the spawned out salmon carcasses, many in the 20 to 30-pound range from Lyons Ferry Fish Hatchery.

WDFW fish biologist Michael Gallinat of Dayton explained that the dead fish provide food for aquatic insects and other stream life that in turn are consumed by juvenile salmon, steelhead, and other fish. Salmon and steelhead once provided these important marine-derived nutrients by returning in large numbers to the rivers to spawn, die, and decay. In recent years, however, too few salmon and steelhead have returned to the Tucannon River to provide the necessary nutrients to maintain a productive food web.

"It's the way that wild fish recycle naturally," Gallinat said, noting that hatchery carcass distribution has been used to enhance nutrients in waters throughout the state for at least a couple of decades. Several research studies have shown that distributing salmon carcasses helps streams rebound to healthy salmon habitat. Otters, mink, and other wildlife also consume the salmon carcasses.

Brian Burns of TSS said the project gives members a chance to help give something back to the fish resource they enjoy.

TSS is one of 14 state-appointed Regional Fisheries Enhancement Groups dedicated to restoring salmon and steelhead populations.