Details emerge on plan to restore salmon in Calif. river

The Fresno BeeFebruary 25, 2011 

Reviving chinook salmon on the San Joaquin River will cost more than $20 million – which may sound like a lot of money for 40,000 fish. But this rare project will take years of work, scientists say.

Three-quarters of those fish will be spring-run salmon, a threatened species already in danger of extinction in California. In the San Joaquin, the fish will have to survive in the southernmost salmon fishery on the continent – where the water sometime gets a little too warm for them.

Scientists say they haven't found similar reintroductions of the threatened spring-run salmon in a river like the San Joaquin, which had been dry in places for more than a half century. Federal officials need to breed a resilient fish for this river.

This month, federal officials began revealing details of the project that will include a $14.5 million hatchery near Friant Dam and more than $7 million to operate it for a decade.

The total is a small slice of the restoration cost, which could run as high as $1 billion. Farm critics say it would be cheaper to skip the expense of salmon restoration and just allow other fish, such as trout and blue gill, to populate the river

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