Why the Salmon Need Trees by the River

Editor’s Note: Camilla, a 19-year-old intern at 826 Seattle, has selected some excellent work that 826 students are producing this summer to share with us on Push To Talk.  

Camillas Note: This is a lovely story that combines folkloric elements and contemporary environmental concerns into a charming fable.  It was inspired by a field trip to the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture in Seattle’s University District.


Why the Salmon Need Trees by the River

By Riley

Long, long ago, when animals could talk, there was a river.  It was a very healthy river and all the salmon came and went to the ocean and back to their hatching grounds along it.  The river was so healthy because of the trees.  The trees kept the dirt from going into the river, and gave shade to make the river cool.  But one day, some people of the nearby village wanted to make houses and sell them to make money.  So they cut down the trees and made the houses out of wood.  Then the next year when all the salmon came back to reach their hatching grounds, they could not get through the river because it was so dirty and hot.

Mike lived in a house near the river.  He loved animals and would sit outside in the forest and watch the salmon on their annual return.  But when the salmon did not come back, he was really worried. He looked and looked for the salmon.  Then, in the corner of his eye, he saw a Chinook salmon that was trying to swim upstream to get to his hatching grounds.

“Hey Chinook, why are you so warm and why are you struggling so much to get up the river?” Mike asked the salmon.

“Because all the trees were cut down and the trees help us to survive,” the salmon panted.

What bad people must have cut down the trees? thought Mike.

Then Mike asked the salmon, “Can I bring back the trees for you?”

“Yes, please!” grinned the salmon.

Then Mike quickly grabbed the salmon, brought him to his house, and put him in a bucket of cold water so the salmon could rest.  Then Mike went to the village to tell the villagers about all the salmon and his plan to put the trees back.  Half of the village agreed with him, but half of the village did not agree.  They wanted houses instead.

Each side of the argument made their case, and the next day they talked more about it. This isnt going well, thought Mike. I really, really, really, want the salmon to live.

All this talking was making the villagers hungry.  So they went to the river but they could not get any salmon, because the salmon could not get up the river.  Oh no, the villagers thought.  We cant have any salmon unless we replant the trees to help the river be healthy and clean again.

The villagers went back to tell Mike and he said, “I’ll help you find some seedlings to plant more trees.  And I’ve also got an idea that will protect the river and give you your houses in the future.”

They planted new seedlings where they cut down the trees, and then they agreed that every fifteen years they would take some trees for wooden houses, but leave the ones closest to the river.

Mike planted lots of seedlings, and soon the trees began to grow back.  Then Mike released the salmon in the bucket farther up the river where its hatching grounds were, into the clean and healthy river.

And that’s why the salmon need trees for a clean and healthy river.



About the Author:

Riley is a fourth grader at Thornton Creek.  She likes drawing and would like to see New York one day.


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