The forests and all the wildlife they host kind of rely on the salmon. Even though the fish themselves use up all their energy making the run to the spawning grounds and expend what little they have left in mating battles and redd-building, there are still a lot of nutrients left in their spent bodies. And there are a lot of spent bodies.
Hunter found a cluster of them snagged in a fallen birch along Scotch Creek. His young eyes spotted them but all three of our noses knew roughly where they were as soon as we walked to the creekside.
Some of the bodies were hanging among the submerged branches while others were moving slowly where they floated in an eddy along the bank. They were grim but fascinating and actually quite beautiful in their own grotesque way. Stuck there against the tree they were decomposing slowly, releasing their nutrients into the water where they would eventually be recomposed into bankside vegetation like the fleabane, alders, birches, cottonwoods and cedars growing close by.