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Salmon Return to Cle Elum Lake

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The Yakama Nation is celebrating the return of sockeye salmon into a lake on the east slope of the Cascade Mountains where they were eliminated decades ago.

Biologists released 1,000 fish into Cle Elum Lake in Central Washington in summer 2009, and those fish swam up the Cle Elum River that fall to spawn.

Now, the offspring of those fish are returning to their birthplace to spawn after spending two years in the ocean.

Sockeye salmon were eradicated in central Washington rivers when the rivers were dammed, barring fish passage.

Also known as the “blueback,” sockeye salmon are revered by Pacific Northwest tribes. Juvenile salmon migrate to the ocean, then return upriver to spend several months in a lake before spawning in mountain creeks and rivers.

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