OROVILLE – For many residents of Butte County, the Salmon Festival is an opportunity to enjoy local vendors and activities. For others, the festival is an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the culture of salmon and wildlife in the Feather River.
To kick off the festival, the Maidu Konkow Valley Band of the North Fork of the Feather River performed a series of opening ceremonial dances.
Wallace Clark, a member of the Maidu and “noponi”, a tradition bearer, helped host and lead the opening ceremony alongside the traditional dancers.
“We’ve been celebrating salmon for thousands of years, where all different people could come and enjoy the salmon diet,” Clark said. “Over the decades this has become part of a larger base with the Salmon Festival.”
The Maidu are the only tribe allowed to spear fishing in the Feather River. In the weeks leading up to the Salmon Festival, members of the tribe can be found fishing just south of Riverbend Park.
The festival not only celebrates salmon, but is also an opportunity for community members to raise funds and educate many organizations in Butte County.
Joan Bosque, a member of the Friends of the Feather River Nature Center, acknowledged the community’s involvement at the annual Salmon Night, which aimed to raise funds for the fully self-sustaining nature center in Oroville.
“We had a big fundraising dinner for the nature center last night and almost all of us sold,” Bosque said on Saturday. “We had great community support for the raffle prizes, wineries donated wine for the event and the Feather Falls Brewery donated beer for the dinner provided by Feather Falls Catering, so c ‘was really festive and community driven. “
The nature center has partnered with the Feather River Fish Hatchery to better educate community members about salmon and the new struggles they face in today’s ever-changing environment.
Although the Feather River Hatchery is closed to the public due to the pandemic, viewing windows and the salmon ladder are still open for public enjoyment and education.
In recent years, approximately 50% of salmon habitat has been destroyed by the construction of dams.
“The reason we’re here is because of the dam being built, as a mitigation measure for the habitat loss that has occurred,” said Anna Kastner, Feather River Hatchery Manager. “We try to maintain populations and because we care about these fish we have an 80-85% survival rate, where on the river they have maybe 5%. It’s not just about the fish, it’s about the environment.
The hatchery’s efforts combined with community outreach from other organizations turned the Salmon Festival into an educational opportunity for residents, as well as a fun day out with the family.