It is often observed that the great salmon runs of North America's Northwest Coast, as they had evolved here, would not have been possible without that protective arboreal cloak of redwood, cedar, hemlock, spruce, and fir known as the temporal rain forest. That forest once extended from a point a few sea miles north of San Francisco to the northwestern shores of Alaska's Cook Inlet. But it can also be observed that the forest, as it evolved through the millenia, would not have been possible without salmon. Nowhere else on earth do fish play so crucial a role in the survival of the forests. It's true that Atlantic salmon made enormous contributions to the terrestrial ecosystems around the North Atlantic, but Pacific salmon runs have always eclipsed the biomass of Atlantic salmon. In the North Pacific, salmon are at the heart of a relationship between fish and trees, and between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, that is unique on the planet.

As salmon set about the long process of recolonizing the coastal landscape from their Ice Age refugia, the first trees to spring up from the glacial till of the valley bottoms took root in the spawned-out bodies of the first salmon. It took cedar 5000 years to make its way to Alaska. It took several thousand years to create the forests that so intimidated the first European explorers who skiffed along the coast in their ships in the late 1700's. Just as their isn't a forest on this coast that has not been home to salmon, there isn't a month of the year when salmon are not spawning somewhere on the coast. Salmon are there, always, in the forest.

* from Glavin, Terry, The Last Great Sea: A Voyage through the Human and Natural History of the North Pacific Ocean, p. 53