Herald: Stillaguamish Tribe gathering juvenile chinook to save dwindling run

The Daily Herald of Everett reports on the Stillaguamish Tribe’s efforts to capture juvenile chinook and raise them to maturity for use as hatchery broodstock:

There was a time when a net cast in the south fork of the Stillaguamish River would bring in a variety of fish.

These days, nets often pull up little more than debris.

“Nothing,” said Charlotte Scofield, a technician with the Stillaguamish Tribe’s Natural Resources Department.

Scofield lugged an iron-weighted beach seine net in with help from Robbie Hutton, another technician on the team. They gathered the net until most of it was on the beach, and lifted the edge up to the surface. They peered in.

“We got nothing,” Scofield said.

Scofield has been wading out waist-high into the river since January, pulling a seine looped around her foot, to catch a few chinook salmon. If she doesn’t find some in her net soon, the strain of salmon, genetically unique to the Stillaguamish River’s south fork, could die out. With a $550,000 state grant, the Stillaguamish Tribe hopes to capture at least 30 newly hatched chinook fry, raise them for three or four years in luxury accommodations, and breed them in an effort to kick-start the struggling run.