Morrison-Maierle’s Natural Resources team members, led by Mike Gray, our Natural Resources Market Group Leader, were recently invited by the Spokane Tribe of Indians and the Inland Northwest Land Conservancy (INLC) to participate in a ceremonial salmon release on the Little Spokane River.

For over a decade, the Upper Columbia United Tribes—consisting of the Spokane, Coeur d’Alene, Kootenai, and Kalispel tribes and the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation— have been working toward restoring historic salmon runs to the Upper Columbia River and its tributaries. Since the mid-1900s, upstream salmon migration to areas of northeastern Washington, northern Idaho, and British Columbia has been blocked due to the lack of fish passage on several major dams on both the Upper Columbia and Spokane rivers. Wild salmon, once ubiquitous to the Spokane and Little Spokane, have not been seen in those rivers for over 80 years.

On August 11, a group of about 100 people, including tribal members and leadership, nonprofit supporters, political leaders, agency representatives, business leaders, supporters of habitat restoration, and Lindsay and Mike from Morrison-Maierle, gathered to celebrate the Spokane Tribe’s traditional connection to salmon, the river, and the land. Storytellers relayed the Tribe’s heritage, drummers led traditional songs and dances, and Tribal leaders shared their vision to restore connections to nature and the land.

After the stories ended, the group released 50 spawn-ready salmon into the cold, clear, spring-fed waters of the Little Spokane River. The salmon are expected to spawn, giving their smolt a chance to swim downstream to the Pacific Ocean during the spring 2024 runoff.