Tribal biologists have confirmed that chinook salmon are spawning in the upper-Columbia River system in Washington state for the first time in 80 years.
The discovery of 36 "redds" (where a female salmon deposits her eggs) along a prime eight-mile spawning stretch of a tributary of the Columbia called the Sanpoil River confirmed the Colville Tribe's suspicions.
It's the culmination of decades of dreaming, and years of work, which one can hear in the words of Crystal Conant, a Colville tribal member of the Arrow Lakes and SanPoil bands, when she spoke to Eli Francovich at Spokesman.
"I was shocked at first, then I was just overcome with complete joy…I don't know that I have the right words to even explain the happiness and the healing," she said.
The Confederated Tribes of the Colville System have been planning and researching how it would be possible to restore salmon populations to the river systems above two dams built in the 1930s and '50s which prevented the fish from reaching the higher levels of the river system to spawn, as they had done for generations.