Habitat Project Accomplishments
Lower Columbia salmon and steelhead trout occupy 2,300 river miles across 18 subbasins and the Columbia River estuary. Habitat was estimated to have declined 30-90 percent at the time of the initial Endangered Species Act listings in 1998. While restoration of all lost habitat is impractical and unnecessary, recovery does require protecting functioning habitat and restoring habitat in high-priority areas.
Partners have implemented more than 800 projects in the region, but the pace of restoration is incremental. Recent funding increases have supported large-scale habitat restoration projects in key watersheds such as the South Fork Toutle, Cispus, Coweeman, Grays, and East Fork Lewis Rivers.
Habitat restoration may be outpaced by ongoing habitat losses. A recent analysis of land-use programs in the East Fork Lewis River revealed that land-use programs fail to evaluate impacts to habitat conditions and watershed processes, a key assumption in the recovery plan. Instead, programs are designed to address legislative or legal mandates, which do not always align with regional salmon and steelhead priorities. These conclusions highlight the importance of working with local, state, and federal land-use managers and regulatory agencies to improve protection of watershed health.
- 487 miles of stream made accessible
- 438 blockages, impediments, and barriers impeding passage
- 2,065 estuarine and near-shore acres treated
- 1,407 riparian acres treated*
- 151 riparian stream miles treated*
*Riparian areas are streamside forests, wetlands, and vegetated areas. ”Treated” usually means fenced to exclude cattle, planted with native trees and shrubs, removed invasive plants, or a combination of them.