Ocean-running salmon and steelhead populations are reared in local waters and travel approximately 800 miles to the Pacific, later to return to the upper Salmon River. This feat is made more remarkable because the fish must navigate around eight hydroelectric dams, the last of which was completed in 1972. As a result, salmon and steelhead populations rapidly plummeted, and salmon fishing in the area was entirely shut down in 1978. Hatchery programs have allowed steelhead fishing to remain an economic and recreational force in the county and a limited Chinook season was reintroduced in 2005.

Landowners and state and federal agencies have invested millions in improving river conditions so wild salon and steelhead might one day thrive again in their namesake river and valley.

Long-time residents remember the days when the “salmon were so thick in the rivers around here that you could walk across their backs to the other side” and still exhibit a bit of surprise when visitors inquire, “Why is the town named ‘Salmon'”? The older photograph, ca. 1915, (taken in front of a pole fish weir which stopped the salmons’ progress and allowed for an easy catch), portrays the size and quantity of the salmon for which the river and its valley are named.