Located in southern Oregon, the Rogue River is known for its world-class sport fishery. Five species of salmon and steelhead inhabit the Rogue and its tributaries, including the wild and scenic Illinois River. These rivers run through some of the most remote and wild natural areas in the Pacific Northwest. The Wild Salmon Center is working with local partners and state and federal agencies to protect and restore this unique ecosystem.
The Sarufutsu River is one of Japanís last free-flowing wild salmon rivers and contains the most important habitat in Japan for the critically endangered Sakhalin taimen (Hucho perryi), Japanís largest freshwater fish. Other salmonids include chum, pink and cherry salmon as well as white spotted charr. The basin contains pristine wetlands and lakes that are not only important for wild salmonids, but also for migrating birds -- including Arctic swans, Stellerís Sea-Eagles, and Red Crowned Cranes. The Wild Salmon Center is working with local organizations, government agencies and private sector partners to protect important salmon habitat and support sustainable fishery practices.
The Hoh River, which flows from its headwaters in Olympic National Park at 8,000 feet to the ocean, is one of the most important strongholds for wild salmon south of Canada. It has one the region's last native populations of coastal spring chinook salmon, some of the last healthy populations of coho salmon, and a race of large winter steelhead that can reach weights of more than 25 pounds. The Hoh also supports resident cutthroat trout, rainbow trout and coastal bull trout.
Salmon-dependent wildlife diversity in the Hoh floodplain includes northern spotted owl, marbled murrelet, bald eagles, black-tailed deer, otters, cougars, and black bears.
John Day River
The John Day River is the Columbia Basin's most biologically diverse river system and a globally important stronghold of wild salmon. The John Day is the second-longest undammed river in the American West, and the longest free-flowing river system in the continental United States with entirely unsupplemented runs of wild salmon and steelhead. Despite massive expenditures for Columbia River Basin salmon recovery, there is no blueprint to permanently protect this exceptional ecosystem.
Tillamook & Clatsop Anchor Habitats
Large areas of the Tillamook forest in the Coast Range of Oregon were burned in the Tillamook Burn of 1933 and in subsequent years and roughly six year intervals. As a result, much of the Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests are second growth. Nonetheless, these forests provide an important opportunity to preserve healthy salmon habitat. The priority watersheds for salmonids in the Coast Range include the Nehalem, Salmonberry, Kilchis, Trask, and Wilson rivers. The Tillamook is the largest expanse of unprotected, contiguous rainforest in the lower 48 states. The area has several endangered and threatened species, including the marbled murrelet and the Northern spotted owl.
The Nushagak River in southwest Alaska runs into Bristol Bay and is one of the most important and pristine wild salmon rivers in the world. The Nushagak and its tributaries support the largest wild sockeye fishery on earth. These rivers also support a globally significant Chinook run. Unfortunately, this area is threatened by a proposed gold and copper mine - the Pebble Mine would be one of the largest mines in the world. The Wild Salmon Center has assembled a team of scientists to analyze and report on the potential impacts of the proposed mine on water quality and the salmon fishery.
Utkholok & Kvachina Rivers
The Utkholok and Kvachina watersheds in the western Koryak Autonomous Okrug are some of the most productive and best-protected steelhead (O. mykiss) rivers on the Kamchatka Peninsula. The river basins, totaling 736,000 acres, drain the rich lowland tundra ecosystems of the western Kamchatka Peninsula, meeting at Cape Utkholok before draining to the Sea of Okhotsk. The Utkholok and Kvachina meander in complex channels through low floodplain forests of cottonwoods and willows. Both rivers contain exceptionally large steelhead, sometimes weighing as much as 30 pounds (18 kg). The Wild Salmon Center is working with Russian scientists, government officials and local communities to establish a salmon protected area capturing these two watersheds.
The Zhupanova River watershed is one of the most productive trout rivers in the world, and is home to the richest rainbow trout habitat on Kamchatka. Situated in the south-eastern Kamchatka Peninsula, the Zhupanova drains a 1.1 million acre area extending into the central Kamchatka Range of volcanic mountains. The river contains exceptionally large trout, some reaching 12-15 lbs (7.3-9 kg), five species of Pacific salmon, and two species of anadromous char (Dolly Varden and kundzha). The Zhupanova is also an important resting place for migratory birds, which gather here in the thousands during their fall migration.
The Kol River system flows from the Central Mountains in west-central Kamchatka 75 miles west to the Sea of Okhotsk. The river contains one of the
richest known assemblages of salmonid fish, including native stocks of chinook, coho, sockeye, chum, pink and Asian masu salmon (all six Pacific salmon
species), as well as steelhead, rainbow trout, Dolly Varden char, and white-spotted char. The Kol Basin is also extremely productive. Annual salmon
returns generate nutrient inputs of 581 to 1161 kg/square kilometer of watershed area. The watershed provides habitat for Kamchatka brown bears, Steller's
sea eagles, and numerous other marine and terrestrial bird and mammal species. For these and other reasons, the Kol has been designated a Project Site
by the United Nations Development Programme/Global Environment Facility's $13-million initiative ":Conservation and Sustainable Management of Kamchatka's
Wild Salmonid Biodiversity.": The work of the Wild Salmon Center and its partners led to the approval of this initiative, which is the UN's first ever
effort to protect wild salmon, and Wild Salmon Center is a main partner in the project's execution. The creation and operation of the Kol River Salmon Refuge is one key project outcome.
The Koppi River watershed is situated in the geographic region of Northern Primorye. The river flows down the eastern slope of the Sikhote-Alin mountain range into the northern part of the Sea of Japan. Glaciers did not reach the Sikhote-Alin mountain range during the Ice Ages, and it became a refuge for many species of tertiary flora and fauna. Manchurian deer and moose are abundant in the Koppi River watershed. Several Amur tigers permanently live there. The bird fauna is very rich and includes some species listed in the Red Book of the Northern Russian Far East: scaly merganser, mandarin duck, great fish owl, and Steller's sea-eagle.
The Samarga River is a unique and relatively untouched center of biodiversity in the Eastern Sikhote-Alin Mountains. It may be
considered the model water body for the Primorye region of the Russian Far East. This river is located in northeast Primorsky Krai
(Primorye). This watershed is a part of an ancient nature complex, in which the natural environment is still very pristine because
there are no roads, many mountains, and difficult coastline access. The Samarga is the biggest river (220 km length) of the northern
Sikhote-Alin. Healthy populations of pink, cherry (masu), and chum salmon, Dolly Varden, and Sakhalin char still exist here. The
Samarga basin is also home to the largest population of a rare salmonid species - Sakhalin taimen - still in healthy condition.
Wild Salmon Center has worked with our Russian partners, including Sakhalin Environment Watch, to establish a 165,000 acre salmon/marine refuge on Sakhalin Island in the Russian Far East. The Vostochnii Refuge in northeast Sakhalin includes two entire ocean-draining basins, the Vengeri and Pursh-Pursh Rivers, protecting habitat for healthy populations of pink, chum and coho salmon, as well as char and other salmonids. The refuge protects some of the last remaining intact forest ecosystems of Sakhalin in perpetuity and includes a 2km marine buffer to protect endangered sea lions.
The Tugur River flows through the Tuguro-Chumikanskiy region of Khabarovskyi krai (territory) and into the southwestern part of the Sea of Okhotsk. The Tugur River basin is practically unpopulated. There are no roads except for winter snow roads, and no mining or logging activities. Most of the basin is in natural pristine condition. There are 23 species of freshwater fish in the river, including numerous populations of chum, pink salmon, lenok, grayling and Siberian taimen, plus various minnows and pike. The Tugur River basin is very promising for developing ecological tourism.
The Shantar Archipelago is a group of beautiful and largely untouched islands in the western Sea of Okhotsk. The Shantars hosts a unique
mixture of plant communities and climatic zones, and boasts a wide variety of wildlife as well as unique geological features. Over 240
species of birds (including 25 endangered species) live on or migrate through the islands, and numerous large seabird colonies can be found
along the island shores. In addition to supporting productive salmon runs and the only population of rainbow trout in Asia outside Kamchatka,
the waters around the island provide habitat for a large variety of marine mammals, including endangered populations of Western Pacific grey
whales and bowhead whales.
We are working with the Khabarovsk Wildlife Foundation to create the Shantar Islands National Park, which will also protect the marine
environment surrounding the islands. WSC has supported scientific expeditions to the area, the results of which will be used by the
Wildlife Foundation to develop the scientific nomination for the park. The Wildlife Foundation is also preparing zoning and management
recommendations to protect key areas and allow responsible tourism in others.
The Opala River is one of the most highly productive and diverse wild salmon rivers in the North Pacific. The Wild Salmon Center is working with local partners and stakeholders to better conserve this pristine salmon ecosystem and wild fishery resource.
The Opala is home to all six species of Pacific salmon. There are 2 state nature reserves on the lower and upper courses of the Opala: the "Yugo-zapadnyy tundrovyy" ("Southwest Tundra") reserve on the lower reach, and the "Oleniy dol" ("Deer Valley") reserve on the upper reach. Nonetheless, these reserves, like many others on Kamchatka, currently do not provide adequate protection for salmonid species.
Along with the other rivers of Western Kamchatka, the Opala is a very important reproduction center for Pacific salmon, making a very substantial contribution to the coastal harvests of the Kamchatka fisheries complex. Tourism companies are active on this river, oriented primarily toward sport fishing and river rafting.
The Oblukovina, Krutogorova & Kolpakova Rivers
The Oblukovina, Krutogorova, and Kolpakova river basins combine to make a three-basin salmon ecosystem in western Kamchatka that is over 2.4 million acres. In the near future, the Oblukovina River will be designated as a Salmon Protected Area and the adjacent Krutogorova and Kolpakova river basins will have an enhanced salmon monitoring and co-management regime, allowing both better protection of the salmon habitat and development of natural resources in close partnerships with local stakeholders, NGOs, Kamchatka Administration and extractive industries.
The Sakhalin's Krilyon Peninsula contains the adjacent Kura and Naicha River basins, which total 55,845 acres. These rivers are home to pink and chum salmon, masu, and Sakhalin taimen. This remote, wild region is in surprising proximity to the city of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, making the region a good candidate for establishment of a "Nature Park" with an emphasis on eco-tourism.
Yamabe, or freshwater cherry salmon, in Japan.
By protecting Japan's last free-flowing rivers, we are helping safeguard the future of wild salmon across the entire range of Pacific salmon.
Japan accounts for nearly one third of the Pacific Rim's annual wild salmon harvest. While Japan's salmon fisheries are closely linked ecologically to the fisheries of the Russian Far East, Japan has taken a very different development path. More than 98% of Japan's salmon rivers have been dammed and artificially modified, so that commercial fisheries now rely heavily on hatcheries in order to maintain their productivity. Nevertheless, important wild salmon biodiversity remains. In northern Japan, Wild Salmon Center is working with local partners, scientists, government agencies and private landowners to safeguard the last free-flowing salmon rivers in the region and protect the unique salmonid biodiversity of the southern range of Pacific salmon.
WSC and our regional partners supported the Hokkaido government's development of a new regulatory system to protect critically endangered sea-run taimen, the largest freshwater fish in Japan and one of the most ancient species of Pacific salmonids. Under this new regulation, the Hokkaido government will apply the "Rare Species Conservation Act" to taimen (previously only applied to mammals and birds) and ban all sport fishing on rivers with highly threatened sub-populations of taimen, including the Shirebetsu and Shari rivers. Watersheds with healthy populations, such as the Sarufutsu River, will continue to rely on voluntary catch and release regulations.
The Wild Salmon Center has collaborated with Oji Paper Company, the largest paper company in Japan, and local partners to create a protected area in the Sarufutsu River Basin in Hokkaido, Japan. The 6,573 acre Sarufutsu Environmental Conservation Forest is the first Protected Area on private lands in Japan specifically devoted to aquatic biodiversity and will protect spawning and rearing habitat for the critically endangered sea-run taimen and other wild salmonids in one of the last free-flowing rivers in Japan.
The Wild Salmon Center contributed to the development of the Shiretoko World Heritage Site, an internationally recognized protected area that is safeguarding some of the most pristine and rare wild salmon habitat left in Japan. WSC's involvement led to the formation of the first interagency government commission in Japan chartered to develop a holistic wild salmon management plan. Dam mitigation plans developed by this commission ultimately led to the removal or modification of 31 dams in the World Heritage Site resulting in enhanced fish passage for natural spawning adult salmon.