The salmon spawning season on the upper main Salmon River has started, so rafters and kayakers will have to carry their boats around certain areas so they won’t disturb the fish.
The Sawtooth National Forest imposed the restrictions effective Monday.
“All of these requirements are being implemented in order to provide protection for the threatened species of chinook salmon,” said area ranger Paul Ries.
“These fish have made one of the longest migrations on earth, 990 miles to return from the ocean to spawn and die in the upper Salmon River.
“We must do everything we can to provide the opportunity for the fish to complete their life cycle without interruption or harassment,” Ries said.
Fish were spotted spawning about two weeks earlier than usual.
As a result, boats must portage around Indian Riffles, the historic chinook spawning area three miles downriver from Sunbeam Dam. In addition, boats must be taken out of the river 1.5 miles upriver from the normal takeout at Torrey’s Hole, Ries said.
Similar restrictions were in effect during last year’s spawning season.
The restrictions mean rafters and kayakers must carry their craft about a half-mile by vehicle.
Two sections of the river are open for floating, from Stanley to Mormon Bend and the Yankee Fork to the takeout above Torrey’s Hole.
Last year only 156 salmon reached the state fish hatchery south of Stanley.
Already this year, more than 190 salmon have passed through the popular rafting stretch of the river and reached the hatchery.
People planning to float the 30-mile stretch of the upper main Salmon River between the fish hatchery downriver to the eastern boundary of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area should contact the Stanley Ranger Station for information on floating requirements.
xxxx This sidebar appeared with the story: PORTAGE The restrictions mean rafters and kayakers must carry their craft about a half-mile by vehicle.