Born to Be Wild: How Science Can Inform Recovery of Idaho Salmon and Steelhead

Originally presented to the Idaho Environmental Forum as a live presentation, this pre-recored webinar features two of the Northwest's most respected biologists working on salmon science.

Historically the Columbia River basin, including the Snake and Salmon rivers, was the most productive chinook salmon habitat in the world. By 1995 fewer than 1,200 wild chinook salmon returned and today all Snake River populations are at risk of extirpation and federally listed under the Endangered Species Act.

Biologist Rick Williams will describes the history, status and trends of salmon and steelhead populations in the Columbia and Snake river basins. He discusses the scientific foundation supporting an ecologically-based salmon and steelhead recovery effort.

Biologist Russ Thurow focuses on chinook salmon populations within the Middle Fork of the Salmon River basin in central Idaho to illustrate the patterns and trends Williams introduces. Thurow describes results of long-term scientific research to advance knowledge of the landscape and local biophysical conditions and processes that influence salmon habitat, and the distribution, diversity, persistence, and recovery of salmon.

Research results highlight that essential building blocks for recovery persist in the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. However, recovery is limited by outside-basin factors. These data may be applied to inform effective salmon recovery strategies.

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Russ Thurow

Russ Thurow is a Fisheries Research Scientist with the U.S. Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station in Boise, Idaho. His research focuses on understanding ecosystem function and aquatic species responses and on development of conservation and restoration strategies for native aquatic species. Russ has been investigating anadromous salmonids for more than 30 years. He is very familiar with central Idaho’s Middle Fork of the Salmon River basin and the ecology of its wild chinook salmon and steelhead.

Rick Williams

Dr. Rick Williams is a Research Associate in the Department of Biology at The College of Idaho and lives in Eagle, Idaho. His research and writing having focused on the conservation of native trout and salmon for more than 30 years.  Rick has worked on Columbia River salmon recovery issues since 1986 and in 2006 authored Return to the River: Restoring Salmon to the Columbia River.