Salmon success subject of TV series

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Cutboard Studio/courtesy photo Some of the successes in the decades-long effort to help salmon runs are the subject of the television series “Way of the Columbia,” sponsored in part by the Grant County PUD.

EPHRATA — A Spokane production company has released a 13-episode television show detailing some of the successful efforts to improve salmon runs along the Columbia River and its tributaries. The Grant County PUD is among the sponsors of “The Way of the Columbia,” produced by Cutboard Studio. The series is being broadcast on PBS stations around the Pacific Northwest.

The PUD contributed $25,000 to underwrite the project, said Chuck Allen of the PUD public affairs office. Other contributors are Yakama Nation Fisheries, the Bonneville Power Administration and Northwest River Partners.

“They were interested in telling stories about things that were happening on the river,” Allen said, and it was a story the PUD wanted to tell too.

The project grew from an earlier series produced by the company, said “Way of the Columbia” producer Aaron Nepean. That series, “Columbia Country,” highlighted good fishing and fishing techniques along and around the river. Each episode included a short segment on conservation and mitigation efforts along the river. His former business partner, Bob Asbury, thought the effort to improve fish runs on the Columbia deserved its own series, Nepean said.

“There’s been a lot of success in a lot of areas,” he said. An episode played at Tuesday’s PUD commission meeting detailed efforts to improve fall Chinook spawning grounds in the Hanford Reach, just downstream from Priest Rapids Dam. “Our goal is to highlight projects that have a positive result.”

Other projects profiled include reintroducing fish to regional lakes, habitat restoration on tributaries, improving fish passage through the Columbia River hydropower system, and helping juvenile salmon to survive the trip to the ocean.

Salmon and salmon survival are controversial subjects in the region, but there are successful projects out there, Nepean said, and those stories cross political boundaries.

Each episode includes some of the history of the river, of salmon and development along the river, and a look at how the region got where it is. The projects detailed show some of the ways river managers are trying to accommodate salmon and their life cycle.

Nepean said he learned a lot, about salmon and about efforts to preserve and enhance salmon runs. He didn’t know much about the subject, he said, and one of the goals of the series became informing Pacific Northwest residents who might not know about the successes either.

The series is offered to Pacific Northwest PBS stations free of charge. Currently it’s being broadcast Saturdays on KSPS, Spokane, and it’s been scheduled for broadcast in the Tri-Cities, Pullman and on Oregon Public Broadcasting in Portland. Nepean said he hopes to get the series distributed throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Currently the company is raising funds to produce a second season, he said.

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at education@columbiabasinherald.com.

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