The Hood Canal Salmon Enhancement Group and our volunteer community have been monitoring Summer Chum on the Union River using a fish trap for 21 years. From mid-August to mid-October, these environmental stewards work 24/7 (yes, even through the night!) netting fish out of the trap, recording their catch, and releasing the adult salmon upriver where they will spawn. This is an important monitoring effort that allows HCSEG and partners to collect data on this population of Hood Canal Summer Chum. Summer Chum is a species of salmon completely unique to the Hood Canal watershed, but unfortunately they have been listed as threatened by the Endangered Species Act since 2000. This important collaboration between HCSEG and our volunteers allows us to monitor this species and develop targeted recovery efforts, such as salmon habitat restoration plans as well as pinpoint other problems effecting our local salmon populations.
Summer Chum are unique because they return to the river when the water levels are low and warm, when not many salmon can, and provide essential nutrients to the river system from the saltwater. They provide necessary health benefits to our entire local ecosystem: to our forests, water, and other fish.
This research and species recovery effort would not be possible without our dedicated volunteer community, who have watched Summer Chum slowly rebound through this diligent monitoring program, as well as their contribution to our habitat restoration projects – which includes planting trees and removing invasive plant species. The Hood Canal Salmon Enhancement Group’s relationship with our community volunteers and our carefully implemented salmon research and restoration programs has allowed us to effectively run programs like the Union River Summer Chum trap for over 30 years. As a small grassroots nonprofit, these relationships and boots-on-the-group programs are some of the greatest keys to our success.
We would like to thank the hundreds of volunteers who show up for us every year - you are the great salmon people of the Pacific Northwest, ensuring the survival of these fish for generations to come!