Regional overview

Aerial view of the Tucannon River

Home > Snake River > Regional overview

Snake River: Key takeaways

1Very significant salmon recovery actions have occurred through regional collaboration.

2The largest hurdles to fish migration are gone now in Asotin Creek and the Touchet and Tucannon Rivers. Mill Creek is up next and will require U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ participation, significant levels of funding, and community support.

3Marine mammals and birds are eating more salmon, compromising salmon recovery.

Visit the Regional Recovery Organization’s Web site:


Snake River Salmon Recovery Board logo

2016 progress and challenges

Progress

  • Populations of Middle Columbia steelhead are stable or improving, Snake River steelhead and spring Chinook have stabilized, Snake River fall Chinook are increasing, and some populations are above recovery goals (Joseph Creek and Asotin River steelhead populations)
  • Fish in the Tucannon River are getting the cool, clear water they need to survive. Water temperature has been below 74 degrees since 2005 and sediment levels have dropped from 63 percent to 19 percent, all due to restoration and landowner stewardship
  • More than 1,000 acres of salmon habitat has been conserved
  • 68 barriers to fish migration, have been removed opening nearly 275 miles of habitat to salmon
  • More than 160 miles of streams have been restored or protected

Challenges

  • Degraded floodplains, channel structure, and low stream flow (Walla Walla River)
  • Predation by marine mammals and birds
  • Lack of monitoring to guide future investments and staff to facilitate partnerships
  • Maintaining support for salmon recovery when there is limited recreational salmon fishing opportunity

About our region

Our region encompasses five counties – Asotin, Columbia, Garfield, Walla Walla, and part of Whitman County – and five listed species of salmon. Life is hard for fish in this region. The floodplains, banks, and river channels have been altered, which results in water that can be too warm and too low in the summer yet too high and too fast in the winter; and, migrating salmon are being eaten by marine mammals and birds at alarming levels. Fortunately, the strong partnerships between local governments, residents, and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, have made a difference. Sediment and temperatures are at the lowest levels since Endangered Species Act listings occurred. Dikes, levees, and gravel berms are being removed or set back, allowing rivers to interact with floodplains, reducing flood risks and stabilizing summer time base flows. In addition, local communities and businesses are benefiting from the investments made for salmon recovery. The economics of habitat restoration and salmon fishing are being realized.

Salmon recovery stories

View All Stories

Snake River salmon recovery region in Washington state