Business decision drains salmon stream of water

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by GARY CHITTIM / KING 5 News

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KING5.com

Posted on August 15, 2013 at 5:17 PM

Updated Thursday, Aug 15 at 7:00 PM

ROCHESTER, Wash. -- Neighbors are teaming up to rescue stranded salmon and other fish from a once roaring creek in Thurston County that suddenly went dry.

It turns out the fish are victims of a company improving its business practices and the fish's own natural instincts. 

More than 30 years ago, a fish farm started pumping well water and releasing it through its pens to a small seasonal stream called Scatter Creek. That turned the stream into a year round creek that attracted salmon and other fish that spawned there, creating an artificial run. Over the years the population of fish grew and neighbors got used to seeing large salmon return every fall.

This year the owners of the fish farm upgraded their equipment, creating a more efficient filter and recycle water system. State Fish and Wildlife officials supported the decision which returned Scatter Creek to its original, seasonal former self.

But the decision also left Scatter Creek dried up for the summer and its young salmon, steelhead, cutthroat and other fish species trapped in pools, unable to migrate to the Chehalis River and the ocean.

Neighbors, with the help of biologists from the Chehalis Indian Tribe, are capturing the salmon and transporting them downstream to the Chehalis.

So far they’ve rescued thousands of fish but know thousands more are lost.  And as the winter rains come, more salmon will migrate up Scatter Creek to spawn and start a whole new generation of trapped fish in the summer.
 

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