CAMP SHERMAN, Ore. - The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife had some help Tuesday as they released nearly 300,000 juvenile Chinook salmon into the Metolius River.
The release is part of an ongoing program to reintroduce wild salmon and steelhead to the Upper Deschutes Basin.
Students from a natural resources class at Madras High School joined biologists from Portland General Electric and ODFW in the effort.
Wildlife biologists are hoping these juvenile fish will return as adults and hatch their eggs in the river.
It has been a slow start this year for Chinook returning to the Deschutes River, Last week, ODFW managers predicted a very poor return of both hatchery and wild fish this season.
Officials told NewsChannel 21 the survival rate in the ocean had some impact on the returns of the fish.
The release is part of a long-term recovery effort aimed at restoring sustainable salmon and steelhead runs in Upper and Middle Deschutes Basin rivers and tributaries previously cut off by dams built in the 1950s and '60s. New fish passage systems installed downstream by PGE and the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs in 2010 made the reintroduction effort possible.
As outdoor enthusiasts prepare for the fishing season, ODFW officials hope the Chinook salmon fry will find their way back to Central Oregon in a couple of years.
ODFW is predicting a strong return of fall Chinook to the Deschutes when the river reopens to Chinook on Aug 1.