Image:Bureau of Land Management
By Rocky Barker
McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)
BOISE, Idaho — Sockeye entered the Columbia River in recent weeks, beginning a 900-mile migration that very nearly ended 20 years ago.
Only four Snake River sockeye made their way through eight dams and past nets and predators in 1992, a year after the fish that makes its home in Idaho's Sawtooth Valley was listed as endangered. Only one male completed the final climb up the Snake and Salmon rivers to a weir on Redfish Lake Creek on Aug. 4.
Allyson Coonts, the 7-year-old daughter of Sawtooth Hatchery technician Phil Coonts, named the sockeye Lonesome Larry. When then-Idaho Gov. Cecil Andrus put the stuffed fish on his office wall, Lonesome Larry became the symbol of the entire Snake and Columbia salmon restoration program.