Reeling in a Milestone Million

Banner Season on Baker River: Released Juvenile Salmon Hits More Than 1,000,000; Outbound Migration Not Over Yet

BELLEVUE, Wash. (June 12, 2014) – It’s a record-smashing season for young salmon at Baker River in the North Cascades. And the fish keep coming.

In just the past few days, the total number of juvenile sockeye and coho that has been collected by fisheries crews passed the staggering one-million mark. As of June 11, the total was 1,001,558. The previous record, set last year, saw more than 827,000 young salmon move through by the end of the season, which ends on July 31st each year.

Puget Sound Energy completed construction of a large, advanced fish hatchery near Upper Baker Dam four years ago that has dramatically increased the basin’s production of young salmon. Using high-tech equipment, crews help the fish continue swimming downstream and out to sea with the help of two “floating surface collectors” – one at Baker Lake and a newer one at Lake Shannon. Each collector is a 1,000-ton, barge-like structure that safely funnels and holds juvenile salmon for truck transport downstream around the two Baker River dams using the famous ‘fish taxis.’

Previous Juvenile Salmon Runs Downstream
  2013 2012 2011 2010
Juvenile Sockeye 758,309 469,932 209,508 436,587
Juvenile Coho 68,965 75,487 77,687 86,005
Total 827,274 545,419 287,195 522,592

Later this summer, tens of thousands of adult salmon will migrate upstream on Baker River in what’s expected to be a very strong run. The record return is 53,580 (48,014 sockeye and 5,566 coho) set in 2012. The fish taxis will be used to take them up past the dams.

As recently as the mid-1980’s, the salmon population was nearly extinct along the Baker River. Over the past 10 years, PSE has invested more than $150 million for advanced fish-enhancement equipment to bring the salmon back to Baker.

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