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Salmon Back in the Upper San Joaquin River After 62 Years


Chinook salmon capture and release into spawning grounds below Friant Dam 

SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY, CA - Salmon are starting their comeback. San Joaquin River Restoration Program fish biologists will capture salmon blocked by a metal barrier at the confluence of the San Joaquin and Merced Rivers and relocate them to some of their historic spawning grounds below Friant Dam. These fish will be some of the first salmon to spawn in the upper San Joaquin since the late 1940s. Scientific studies tracking the movement and behavior of these fish will contribute to the full reintroduction of salmon to the San Joaquin River.

After the completion of Friant Dam by the federal government in the 1940s, nearly 95 percent of the river’s flow was diverted in most years. As a result, 60 miles of the river ran dry, the second largest salmon population in the state was lost, fish and wildlife populations declined, and California lost one of its great rivers. This fall’s translocation and release of adult fall-run salmon is the latest step in the revitalization of California’s second longest river.


WHO: San Joaquin River Restoration Program and the San Joaquin River Partnership 

Capture and Release of Fall-run Chinook salmon into historic spawning grounds


WHERE: 10:AM FOR FISH CAPTURE, Hills Ferry Barrier (Hills Ferry Road & River Road Newman, CA)

1:00 PM FOR FISH RELEASE, Camp Pashayan (7695 N Weber Ave, Fresno, CA) 

“This release marks a historic milestone not only for the San Joaquin Restoration Program but for conservation in California: this group of salmon will be the first to spawn in the upper San Joaquin River in more than half a century. The salmon release in this year’s landmark study will provide scientists from the state and federal agencies implementing the restoration with critical information on the behavior of fall-run salmon in the Upper San Joaquin River.” says Rene Henery, Trout Unlimited’s California Science Director.

The restoration of the San Joaquin River is about more than bringing the salmon back and improving water management for agriculture. A living river is a place for families to recreate and connect with nature, a place for wildlife to nest and feed, and will provide better water quality and flood protection for our communities. Restoration will also create jobs related to restoration projects and recreation. It is for all these reasons that we celebrate this restoration milestone.

Filming and photography opportunities of salmon capture, scenic river shots, and salmon release into the San Joaquin River below Friant Dam will be possible. B-roll footage from earlier capture and release will be available from NRDC. Contact Kelly Coplin at


For driving directions and background documents click below


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Supporting Fact Sheet (2).doc140 KB

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