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Juvenile Coho salmon are showing up in Tryon Creek
by: SUBMITTED PHOTO/ ROBERTA GUARINO,   
Trevor Conder, Mike Hudson and Ron Rhew from U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service were recently electro fishing in Tryon Creek. They ran electric current through the stream, to stun fish so they could collect them in buckets and nets for testing.

Recent efforts to restore fish habitat in Tryon Creek appear to be paying off.

This spring, officials with state and federal agencies have discovered juvenile salmon in the creek.

'What's really exciting is that we're finding Coho in the creek again,' said Stephanie Wagner, executive director of Friends of Tryon Creek. 'It has us thinking that some fish made it up here to breed.'

Representatives from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Tryon Creek State Park, Tryon Creek Watershed Council and the city of Portland were on hand recently to 'tag' juvenile Cohos so they can be tracked in the coming months and years.

Wagner said the discovery of juvenile salmon is especially gratifying, because salmon have not been seen in the creek for two decades. The salmon were found between the Highway 43 and Boones Ferry Road culverts, in an approximately 1½-mile stretch of stream.

The culverts, as well as the growing use of herbicides and pesticides, may have contributed to the disappearance of salmon in previous years.

Amy Gaskill of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said the agencies have combined efforts to restore 50 feet and enhance 600 feet of creek habitat. They have also re-vegetated eight acres of stream bank, riparian and floodplain habitat and connected higher quality stream habitats.

'We've been supporting efforts to increase the spawning habitat,' said Wagner.

The creek is a habitat area for cutthroat salmon and steelhead, she said.

Just how many juvenile salmon are in the creek this spring is not known because there are spawning grounds in the higher reaches of Tryon Creek, which have not been surveyed.

Planned improvements to the culvert under Highway 43 may help the chances of more salmon coming to the creek. The culvert will be renovated to act more like an actual stream, she said. That means the existing baffles in the culvert will be replaced with ones that are more fish-friendly and step pools will also be installed.

Gaskill said the agencies want 'to make this urban stream an important greenway for wildlife and a critical link for native fish in the Willamette River basin, including Coho salmon, steelhead and cutthroat trout and lampreys.'

The tags on the salmon will help officials track the salmon as they move past the Highway 43 culvert.

'We can figure out when they leave the creek,' she said.