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California’s Salmon people

Save California Salmon (SCS) is not a typical environmental group or environmental justice group. Our goal is to have a restored and harvestable fishery for all the people that depend on salmon for their survival, and to empower and help to restore salmon-dependent communities. We work closely with fishermen and tribes on all of our projects, and our advisory board is made up of salmon dependent people including leaders from the Tolowa, Hoopa Valley, Winnemem Wintu, Yurok and Sherwood Valley Tribes. 

Supporting Tribal People 

We realize that for salmon dependent communities, saving the salmon is not just an environmental issue but also a human rights issue. The leaders on these issues have been fighting for their rights to land and water, and to fish and hunt since colonization began in California during the California gold rush. We work with both recognized and non-recognized tribes, with tribes that are still dependent on salmon, and with those fighting to bring their salmon home. 

Food Security 

Most of the tribes we work with are located within food deserts in extremely remote areas that are located far from where the decisions that impact them are made. SCS works with health and social service professionals, along with scientist and policy people to save salmon. In these areas, lack of salmon takes a toll on the community. Salmon is a big part of the population’s diet and culture. For instance, since salmon numbers have declined it is estimated the Karuk Tribe’s diabetes rate soared to nearly four times the U.S. average. Recently suicide for the Yurok Tribe spiked to up to 13 times normal rates. Many local people say suicide rates directly correlate with low salmon runs and river health.

Rural Communities and Fishing Economies

Unemployment, poverty, drug addiction, and high crime rates correspond with the lack of salmon in both Tribal and non-Tribal communities in rural California. Commercial, tribal and recreational fishing and related industries support the economy and provide jobs in depressed rural California towns. Restoring salmon can help restore our communities. 

It is not Jobs vs. Fish

 Jobs vs. Fish is a false narrative that allows the wealth of rural Northern California communities (along with our rivers) to be transferred to non-sustainable corporate agriculture in desert areas. This is a form of water privatization by the 1 percent. We believe in sustainable farming, but we also believe that healthy rivers and salmon equal jobs and thriving rural communities. 


In fact, A Southwick and Associates study into the benefits of a restored fishery in California found the commercial benefits of a restored fishery to be “$4.83 billion Income impacts

(salaries/wages/benefits, sole proprietor earnings): $2.51 billion Employment (full and part-time).” This is why we work closely with fishermen, fishing unions, tourism interests, and rural communities to fight for the salmon.

Power to the People

Save California Salmon is committed to providing support for youth led environmental and social initiatives and making sure that all those who care about river and salmon issues have an opportunity to build their skills and obtain the monetary support they need to engage in policy decisions that impact their rivers. 

We work in areas where many generations have fought for the salmon. However, it is challenging to engage in the policy decisions that happen at least five hours from the communities impacted, especially considering the limited resources we have. This is why we provide support to the communities we work with. SCS is committed to honoring the example those who came before us set. We are also committed to supporting up and coming activists. 

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