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Salmon and Forests

The rivers that flow toward the Pacific from Oregon’s Coast Range offer some of the best habitat in the world for salmon. I spent some years as a biologist chasing salmon in these rivers, from noisy young streams down through the forest toward the sea.


The best place to see salmon, besides on ice in the supermarket, is in a forest. A wild uncut forest is best, with conifers on the slopes and an awning of alder and maple lining the banks. 


Where there are salmon, there are beavers. There was a time when good salmon management meant ripping out beaver dams so salmon would have a clear, swift highway to and from the ocean. But who can find food and shelter on the edge of a highway? Certainly not young salmon. They need to eat and sleep like everybody else, protected from predators and floods. Big trees, fallen logs, and beaver-built wetlands make good traveling for salmon to and from the ocean.


Eventually, we learned that salmon need forests (among much else) to survive. Not just a beauty strip of trees along the river highway, but a fully functioning forest with trees of all species and ages, beavers, and wildness. A forest is not a tree farm, and wild salmon are not livestock. Wild salmon need wild forests.

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