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Nature Conservancy Magazine: Summer 2009

Salmon Country

Salmon Country

Multimedia stories by Bridget Besaw
Reporting and Writing by Matt Jenkins

In the north Pacific, salmon have sustained human communities for countless generations, fueling entire ecosystems as they swim sometimes more than a thousand miles upstream to spawn and die. “In this part of the world biodiversity runs on salmon,” says Alan Holt, who helped start the Conservancy’s Pacific salmon program.

However, salmon populations today in the Lower 48 have been devastated by a throng of perils, including dams, overharvesting and water diversions for irrigation. Twenty-eight populations of salmon, and their close cousins steelhead trout, are in such danger that they have been listed as threatened or endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

Yet as grim as the salmon’s fate seems today, the species are still the region’s driving ecological force. That’s why the Conservancy is partnering with a number of groups working on salmon with the aim of leveraging collective efforts.

All told, The Nature Conservancy participates in more than 50 salmon restoration projects in priority watersheds from California to Alaska.

Watch exclusive video footage, imagery, and interviews with scientists, farmers, ranchers, conservationists and others who are working to restore once-majestic salmon runs.

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