One of the world’s great trout and salmon rivers avoids damaging development.
Earlier this week, Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin refused to fund a hydroelectric dam project on the Zhupanova River on the Kamchatka peninsula in the Russian Far East. This shelves a long-dreaded project on one of the most productive and famous trout rivers in the world.
The Zhupanova, which drains out of the volcanic southern Kamchatka Range, regularly produces rainbow trout reaching 15 pounds. The watershed, sprawling across more than 1.7 million acres, hosts five species of Pacific salmon, two species of char, and a thriving population of brown bears. It’s also an important resting place for thousands of migratory birds every fall.
For 15 years, Wild Salmon Center has been working with Russian partners to keep this magnificent salmon stronghold intact through scientific research, conservation planning, and support for responsible commercial and sport fisheries. Scientific research began in the late 1990s with joint projects between Moscow State University, Wild Salmon Center and American scientists. Around that time, Wild Salmon Center also helped local guides establish sportfishing businesses on the river. Zhupanova guides now host fishermen from around the world.
The Zhupanova sits adjacent to the Kronotsky Nature Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site punctuated by volcanoes, geysers, calderas and its own rich salmon runs. Together the two undeveloped wilderness areas total 4.5 million acres, twice the size of Yellowstone National Park.
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