Joshua McNichols just produced an interesting story for Oregon Public Broadcasting about how scientists in Seattle, and business owners and others in Portland, are trying to lure salmon back to the city.
In Seattle, researchers are experimenting with roughening the surface of seawalls, creating nooks and crannies to encourage the growth of plants that help shelter tiny critters that feed young salmon. Those salmon pause at Seattle’s waterfront while making the transition from fresh water to the Pacific Ocean.
In Portland, Mayor Sam Adams is pushing for a lower-tech solution: Planting trees and other vegetation at the waterfront. It’s a strategy that’s been tried with success in Seattle.
Making the transition zone through cities like Portland and Seattle safe for salmon is important work, says salmon expert Jim Lichatowich. He points out that the fish must pass through a series of well-functioning habitats to optimize the number that ultimately make it to the Pacific, and then return:
If you have three of those habitats that are degraded, and if through heroic efforts you fix two of those links, the chain’s still broken. And it’s really an important metaphor because it helps explain how we could spend so much money on salmon recovery efforts and get so little out of it.
(If you haven’t read Lichatowich’s Salmon Without Rivers, I suggest you do yourself the favor. Fascinating stuff.)
Out in the countryside, meanwhile, the Bonneville Power Administration is using one of its helicopters to fly over streams and measure their temperature by way of a thermal imaging camera, Tom Banse reports for KUOW. Again, it’s crucial stuff, because waterways whose flow is slowed in the summer by too many water withdrawals by humans can grow too warm for the coldwater-loving salmon.
At times the success of longstanding efforts to restore salmon to the Pacific Northwest has seemed spotty, at best. And of course some runs have gone extinct. But news from the Old World this week suggests it might all be worth it. It seems that Paris — yes, Paris — has re-established salmon runs in the Seine.
This strikes me as incredible. As in, hard to believe. I mean, salmon were all but exterminated from non-Scandinavian Europe centuries ago by urbanization, I thought.
Not so. The wily salmon managed to hang on in the Seine up until sometime between World War I and World War II. In the last couple of years, salmon have returned to swim past the Eiffel Tower. Salmon that are coming upriver to spawn now are strays from other rivers where they never were completely extirpated.
Here’s the even more incredible aspect of this: No one did anything specifically aimed at bringing salmon back to the Seine. No, all they did, according to a story by Emmanuel Angleys of Agence France Press, is clean up the water.
Save those salmon! We’re trying very hard in Seattle to clean up the waterfront and create a better habitat.