“It has been 30 years since the last of the native run of Nisqually River chinook salmon returned to spawn in the river…
The wild run of king salmon fell victim to overharvest. Hatchery fish overwhelmed them. They lost their spawning habitat to development and clear-cut forests. And with two dams on the river, their need for cool, adequate water supplies was not always met.
‘For several months out of the year, it wouldn’t be uncommon for entire sections of the Nisqually River to run dry,’ said David Troutt, tribal natural resources director. ‘The dams also released a deluge of water in the winter after the wild chinook had spawned, scouring out their eggs.’
It’s a common tale played out across Puget Sound, helping to explain why Puget Sound chinook landed on the federal Endangered Species Act list as a threatened species in 1999.
But much has changed along the 78-mile-long river, which begins as melting glacier water high on the flanks of Mount Rainier and ends its downstream journey at the Nisqually Delta, one of the premier river estuaries in the Northwest and home to Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge,” quoting The Olympian.
“The Nisqually River Delta is where the action is when it comes to estuary restoration work in Puget Sound.
Just last month, the Nisqually tribe welcomed back the saltwater to a 100-acre expanse of pasture land that hadn’t seen the tides flow in and out since it was diked for agricultural use more than 100 years ago.
On the other side of the river, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is poised to pull back similar dikes to restore 700 acres of estuary in the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge,” quoting The Olympian.