Why have salmon been pouring back into the Columbia River in record numbers recently while returns to the Washington coast and Puget Sound continue to drop?
One big reason is that, for the past decade, someone in a position of authority has been in charge of protecting and restoring Columbia River salmon.
That person has been U.S. District Court Judge James Redden. Three times during the past 10 years, he has rejected plans to operate hydroelectric dams in the Columbia River basin that would have jeopardized salmon listed under the Endangered Species Act. He ordered more water spilled over the dams to aid fish passage, even though that meant less water to generate power. He has also insisted on specific habitat improvements to aid in the recovery of salmon.