1Salmon and steelhead runs are recovering.
2Fish are using many streams that had been blocked for more than a century, and water managers are working hard to balance the needs of fish and irrigated agriculture.
3While real progress has been made, additional work is needed to remove remaining fish passage barriers, restore key tributaries and floodplains, and continue to improve water management.
Stretching from the high Cascade Mountains to the deserts of central Washington, this region encompasses pine forests, open rangelands, farms, and the towns of Ellensburg, the Tri-Cities, Goldendale, and Yakima. By the late 1980s, the once plentiful runs of salmon in the region’s major rivers had nearly disappeared. Of the 30 demographically independent populations of salmon, steelhead, and bull trout, 20 are listed as threatened with extinction under the federal Endangered Species Act.
When the fish were first listed, there was much fear that the listings would pit fish against farmers and that new regulations would stifle development. Instead, the people in the region are working together to bring back the fish and support local economies. Steelhead and salmon in the Yakima River basin have made a dramatic turnaround since the 1980s, with total runs of 20,000 to 30,000 fish now a regular occurrence.