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Organizers hope festival will spawn interest in salmon

by: Contributed photo A salmon continues the natural cycle of life, returning important nutrients to the water of Multnomah Creek after its death.

Nicole Lund, on-site manager of Multnomah Falls Visitor Center, describes coho salmon as downright hypnotizing.

'I love watching them building their redds (nesting beds), cleaning the rocks,' she says of salmon, which spawn from mid-October through mid-November. 'It's just really interesting to see how they interact with each other and just see how much work they put into this one reproductive activity.'

Lund and several folks from Mt. Hood Community College and Portland State University hope to share their love of salmon with the general public at the third annual Salmon Festival from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 6, at Multnomah Falls, on East Historic Columbia River Highway.

'You can actually get right down near the water and see them in the creek,' Lund says.

The event is free and will focus on children, who will be able to create colorful T-shirts emblazoned with salmon molds.

The festival's displays and information are geared to all ages. Students and staff members from the geography, biology and fisheries departments at Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham will serve as guides.

'While it is good for people to keep current on environmental issues relating to salmon, seeing these fish in the wild makes a much bigger impact,' said Chris Gorsek, Mt. Hood dean of social sciences. 'It helps to create a connection between people and these amazing creatures that is more likely to cause individuals to change their behaviors as they relate to environmental quality, in order to help the species to survive.'

Gorsek hopes folks will come away from the festival more aware about how their actions can make an influence - often adverse - on salmon.

'I've seen people dump antifreeze into a storm drain and not realize it doesn't get treated,' he says, noting the water flows into streams where salmon reside. He adds that certain pesticides people use in their yards also can make their way into rivers and streams where salmon live.

'All of these things have a rather bad impact on the salmon,' he says.

A number of organizations will be on hand to distribute information about fish and environmental issues, Gorsek says, and Native American storyteller Ed Edmo will tell entertaining fish tales.

A Shoshone-Bannock-Nez Perce Native American, Edmo served as a consultant to the Native American architects of the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian.

He also narrated the production of 'Children of the Raven' for the Eugene Ballet Company, and has performed his play, 'Grandma Coke Cherry,' at a number of places, including the Newberry Library in Chicago.

Edmo's poetry, short stories, and plays have been published in several periodicals and his 'Through Coyote's Eyes: A Visit with Ed Edmo' took first place at the Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center play festival in 1990.