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1 Million Chinook Salmon Returned to River Fed by Oroville Reservoir Following Massive Evacuation of Threatened Fish

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More than a month after damage at the Oroville Reservoir triggered a massive evacuation of threatened fish, wildlife officials announced Monday that they had returned almost 1 million spring-run Chinook salmon to the Feather River.

Salmon fry are rescued from the muddy water before raceways are cleaned at the Feather River Fish Hatchery in Oroville. (Credit: Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

The salmon were evacuated from the Feather River Hatchery in Oroville beginning Feb. 9, when officials realized a damaged spillway was sending countless tons of suffocating sediment into the river and hatchery holding areas.

The hatchery, which is owned and operated by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, is the largest in the state. The roughly 10 million young salmon it releases each year in the Feather River and San Pablo Bay, near San Francisco, make up more than half of the annual ocean and inland catch in California.

“Today’s fish release marks the success of federal and state agencies coordinating and managing valuable resources while ensuring public safety during a crisis situation,” said Howard Brown, the Sacramento River basin branch chief for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in a statement.

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