Salmon area irrigators asked to contact Fish and Game before opening ditch water at this source

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SALMON, Idaho (KIFI) – To keep fish out of irrigation ditches, irrigators who divert water from local rivers and streams are urged to contact Idaho Fish and Game’s Anadromous Fish Screen Program at 208-756-6022 at least a week before turning their water on.

This will allow Fish and Game plenty of time to set up all fish screens and make them fully operational, preventing fish from being trapped in irrigation ditches.

The upper Salmon River and many of its tributaries provide critical habitat for Chinook Salmon, Rainbow Trout and other fish to spawn and reproduce as juveniles. After hatching, juvenile salmon and rainbow trout spend one to two years searching for suitable habitat where they can find food and shelter until they migrate downstream to the ocean. . It is during this period, when young fish are actively migrating downstream, that they are at risk of being diverted to one of the many ditch systems.

Through fish screening efforts, all fish are safely returned to the river or stream. Fish screens not only prevent the loss of chinook salmon and rainbow trout, but also sockeye salmon, cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, bull trout and mountain whitefish .

The success of the fish scouting program was measured through a study that counted fish as they returned to the river after being diverted. It has been found that in the Lemhi River, up to 88% of all migrating juvenile Chinook salmon are diverted to at least one ditch system when migrating downstream to the ocean.

Fortunately, the Idaho Fish and Game Screen Program, water users, and area landowners have worked together successfully to prevent the loss of fish in ditch systems for 65 years. The Screen program currently operates and maintains over 280 fish screens which have been installed with the cooperation of local landowners and water users.

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