Coho salmon returned to the Wallowa Valley in northeast Oregon on Thursday for the first time in 31 years.
The Nez Perce Tribe and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife released a half million coho smolts into the Lostine River, part of the Grande Ronde Basin.
"It is a great honor to be able to witness the first steps in reintroducing coho salmon, 'kállay' as they are known to the Nez Perce people, back to an area where they have been absent for far too long," stated Mary Jane Miles, chairwoman of the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee.
"Today represents a new chapter in century-long efforts to reestablish this important species, and we are confident that a strong partnership with our tribal co-managers will finally make this a success," said Jeff Yanke, Wallowa District fish biologist for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
In the late-1800s, an estimated 20,000 adult coho returned to the Columbia River annually from the Grande Ronde/Wallowa river basin. But dams, overfishing and other factors depleted the coho returns.
The Nez Perce Tribe started planning for this reintroduction in 1988, with funding from the Bonneville Power Administration.