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South Karelian Recreation Area Foundation is the watershed restorer of year 2020 – Landlocked salmon will return to River Hiitolanjoki
Mr. Antton Keto from the Ministry of the Environment gave today the prize of The Finnish Water Restoration and Management Network to Mrs. Hanna Ollikainen, who is the managing director of foundation.
Last year South Karelian Recreation Area Foundation bought two hydroelectric power plants that are located on River Hiitolanjoki in Eastern Finland. Those power plants of Rapids Kangaskoski and Ritakoski with the third one located in Rapids Lahnasenkoski ─ which foundation also bought earlier ─ have formed a barrier for landlocked salmon of Lake Ladoga. At the moment Lake Ladoga salmon and trout can run upstream only until power plant of Kangaskoski located 1 km from the Russian border.
The largest dam removal in Finland
River Hiitolanjoki in Rautjärvi is home to Finland’s last remaining stock of original and fully natural landlocked salmon. Now the future looks much better. Beginning from next year, barriers to the upstream movement of migratory fish will be removed and three new flowing rapids will be created. The project will be ready in 2023 and then the river will be free again for salmon and trout after 100 years of waiting.
With a combined descent of 18 meters, the rapids at Ritakoski, Lahnasenkoski and Kangaskoski will form an exceptionally stunning passage in Southern Finland, which of course will also include the already free-running rapids at Uudensillankoski, Rapukoski and Ali-Juvankoski, located upstream. Free rapids areas for migratory fish will also open on the Torsa Trail in River Silamusjoki and River Torsanjoki, as well as in numerous other small streams.
The estimated production potential concerning the spawn of migratory salmon and trout in the Finnish sections is 5,000 - 11,000 migratory young fish per year. That would mean a doubling of the current production of the river, mostly on the Russian side, and a considerable increase in migratory salmon and trout also on the Finnish side. At the present only a few dozen salmon run to the Finnish side annually.
As the salmon population strengthens, River Hiitolanjoki will be developed into Finland’s most important landlocked salmon river. This will enable the development of high quality and responsible fishing tourism and other recreational and tourism activities in the area.
Photo on the top: Restoration of the rapids at Kangaskoski will be started in 2021. (Photo: Arto Apila)