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Stephanie Blair at the bank of the Puyallup River

REPOST: Tribal Connection Inspires Efforts to Save Salmon

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Studying toxic runoff to help save iconic salmon species, Washington State University scholar Stephanie Blair draws on science as well as the knowledge and connections of her Native American community.

A doctoral student in WSU’s School of the Environment, Blair researches the toxicology underlying urban runoff mortality syndrome—a condition that kills coho salmon when they return to urban creeks to spawn. Based at the WSU Puyallup Research and Extension Center, Blair and colleagues are racing to understand the syndrome and develop green infrastructure that can protect fish from toxic chemicals.

Saving salmon is a familial matter for Blair. On her mother Tara’s side, she is Inupiaq, of the Nome Eskimo Community of Alaska. On her father Pete’s side, she is Ojibwe, of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians in Michigan. Her daughter Sienna is a descendant of the Skokomish Indian Tribe, one of many Northwest tribal communities in which salmon are central to life and culture.