Northeast Washington Salmon Recovery Region

Watch Lake

Region Facts

Bull trout recovery is 10 years in the making within the Pend Oreille River subbasin and progress has been made to benefit both bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout. Barriers are being removed and in-stream habitat is improving because of projects implemented here.
One of leaders in recovery efforts is the Pend Oreille Salmonid Recovery Team. The team is comprised of citizens; local, state, and federal government agencies; and the Kalispel Tribe of Indians. The team focuses effort on local habitat protection and improvement for native bull trout, westslope cutthroat trout, and pygmy whitefish. The team uses science, local knowledge, and local coordination to prioritize and implement habitat restoration and protection. The team developed a forum to facilitate coordination and cooperation between local fish and wildlife managers and the public. This public outreach and education improves community support of fish recovery activities in the watershed.
Recovery efforts in the Northeast region are coordinated among state and federal governments and the Kalispel Tribe Lead Entity through the bull trout recovery team. The lead entity focuses locally on the solicitation, development, and prioritization of salmon habitat restoration and protection projects, which are submitted annually to the Salmon Recovery Funding Board. There are several Federal Energy Regulatory Commission settlement agreements in place that are to benefit native salmonids over 50 years. In addition, the Bonneville Power Administration provides substantial funding for matching costs on these projects. To date, we have been very successful in implanting projects with this approach.

Salmon recovery is good for economies, communities, and watersheds

Salmonid recovery in Northeast Washington has brought together state and federal agencies and tribes with local landowners and governments to implement recovery projects. This process fosters public participation and incorporates diverse perspectives and opinions of the community. One major success is that restoration dollars have benefited local communities by providing jobs and stimulating the economy through the purchase of goods and services locally for restoration projects. These restoration activities also have precluded future listings (e.g. westslope cutthroat trout) of native fish species.

Westslope cutthroat trout is a native fish widely distributed throughout the Pend Oreille watershed that was petitioned for listing in June 1998 as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Listing was considered not warranted at that time. These fish are considered to be a “Sensitive Species” by the Colville and Idaho Panhandle National Forests.
Bull trout need the four Cs – Cold, Clean, Complex, and Connected habitat. Bull trout require colder water temperature than most salmon and they require the cleanest streams for spawning and rearing. They also rely on river, lake, and ocean habitats that connect to headwater streams for annual spawning and feeding migrations.
Most of the threats to bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout generally fall into the category of habitat degradation and fragmentation, blockage of migratory corridors, poor water quality, and non-native species. Non-native species can outcompete and prey on native species, while other non-natives can breed with native fish. Invasive fish species issues were identified in the original listing of bull trout and the threat or recognition of such has grown significantly since that time.

Fish listed under the Endangered Species Act

  • Bull trout: Listed as threatened in 1998

Recovery Planning Status

  • The status review is underway for the draft Bull Trout Recovery Plan
  • The Strategy for Protection and Improvement of Native Salmonid Habitat was developed in 2005, with a revised version released in 2007.

Salmon Recovery Organization

The Pend Oreille Salmon Recovery Team consists of a Technical Advisory Group and a Citizens Advisory Group, which are coordinated by the Kalispel Tribe of Indians. The recovery team initiated and developed the Strategy for Protection and Improvement of Native Salmonid Habitat, which focuses on local habitat protection and improvement for native bull trout, westslope cutthroat trout, pygmy whitefish), as well as public education and involvement in the process.
Engaging the Citizens Advisory Group in ranking and prioritizing projects ensures citizens support projects important not only to fish but to the community. In addition, group members are engaged in community outreach and education.

Vision Statement

The Recovery Team’s vision for salmon recovery is: “A healthy watershed that provides for the recovery of native salmonids, while also providing ecological, cultural, recreational, and socio-economic benefits.