The tally of adult spring chinook salmon going past the Bonneville dam on the US’ Columbia river is the largest in more than 20 years. The news is welcome to beleaguered dam operators, blamed by environmentalists for the decline of the region’s salmon.

The fish count at Bonneville dam includes both wild and hatchery fish. It will be several months before fish counts in the spawning habitat in the tributaries verify how much spawning escapement has improved for individual wild stock. As of 20 April 2000 the counting station at Bonneville — the lowest dam on the Columbia river — tallied nearly 60,000 adult spring chinook – almost three times the most recent ten-year average count of 23,000. Last year only 7000 of the salmon had passed the same dam.