Largest Chinook run in decades on Elwha River

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The largest run of Chinook salmon in decades returned to the Elwha River earlier this fall.

PORT ANGELES- Salmon fisheries are quickly rebuilding along the Elwha River below Olympic National Park as thousands of Chinook salmon are moving into stretches of the river formerly blocked by the Elwha Dam.

According to Olympic National Park officials, this is the largest run of Chinook salmon since 1992.

Biologists walked and snorkeled the river to count the salmon in the river and its tributaries during a one-day survey in September. They counted 1,741 adult Chinook and mapped 763 reds between the remnant of Glines Canyon Dam and the river mouth. Approximately 75 percent of those were observed upstream of the former Elwha Dam site.

Park officials say when dam removal is completed next fall, the Elwha River salmon and steelhead will have access to more than 70 miles of spawning habitat. Their populations are expected to grow to nearly 400,000.

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