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After All That, Cows

by Liz Chavez
Lewiston Tribune, October 3, 2004

Over Labor Day I had two experiences, one magical and mystical the other unbelievable and sad.

Newsome Creek, near Elk City, on the south Fork of the Clearwater River is a spawning stream for chinook salmon. The Nez Perce tribal fisheries salmon program has a station there with both a weir and screw trap which tracks the huge chinook coming back to spawn and the young fish going out to grow and hopefully return to their birth stream. When spawning begins, scuba divers go along the creek and mark the redds (bed or nest) with red ribbons.

This day, as I was driving the road along the creek, I saw a flash of light on the stream. I stopped and saw something so beautiful and rare, a male and female salmon were spawning. The female had dug a redd with her tail in the small pebbled area of the stream, the male stayed by her side, waiting. Her tail was already white, meaning her life was leaving her, but she struggled to make the redd. ... I know what happens next and they are so magnificent I can't stand that they have to die, even though I know it is a part of the circle of life.

Driving farther downstream I came to an area where red ribbons can be seen fluttering in the breeze and there in the streambed were cows. The cows didn't know about the redds, but some human surely does. And if they know, why would they deliberately pasture the cows so they could wander into the creek?

Liz Chavez, Lewiston
After All That, Cows
Lewiston Tribune, October 3, 2004

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