Reducing Threats to Salmon


Land use varies widely across the region, from watersheds largely managed by the U.S. Forest Service in Skamania County to rapidly urbanizing watersheds in the Portland-Vancouver area of Clark County. Habitat conditions reflect these varied land uses. Habitat generally is stable or getting better on forestlands managed under the state Forest and Fish rules while habitat is degrading in urbanizing areas.

recent evaluation of land-use programs by the Lower Columbia Fish Recovery Board highlights the need to better integrate recovery plan priorities into local, state, and federal land-use programs. In addition, the lack of a comprehensive habitat status and trends monitoring effort remains a key gap in the region’s ability to evaluate changes in habitat conditions over time.

Hatcheries and Harvest

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife continues to reform hatchery and harvest practices as recommended in the Conservation and Sustainable Fisheries Plan. To date, the department has started implementation of 94 percent of all hatchery and harvest reform actions identified in the recovery plan.

Although the number of hatchery-origin fish competing with natural-origin fish for spawning habitat has decreased, recovery targets have not been reached. Large numbers of hatchery fish continue to constrain recovery of species such as fall Chinook and coho salmon.

Recent shifts in state hatchery and harvest policy create uncertainty about the future alignment of hatchery and harvest management with recovery needs. Because benefits of reform actions may take many generations of fish to be realized, sustained implementation with monitoring and adaptive management is needed.


Recovery of spring Chinook, coho, and steelhead in the region requires successful reintroduction of fish into habitat blocked by the Lewis River and Cowlitz River hydroelectric projects. Mitigation funds support habitat improvements in these blocked areas, while ongoing improvements in fish collection are increasing the prospects for recovery. However, proposals by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to forgo fish passage into key habitat upstream of the Lewis River hydroelectric project create uncertainty about the success of recovery efforts.

Ecological Interactions

Predation in the Columbia River estuary continues to be a recovery issue. Ongoing control programs have reduced bird and northern pikeminnow predation; however pinnipeds continue to eat too many salmon. Dedicated funding will be important to support and expand control programs established through recent changes to the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Background: Salmon recovery in Washington is driven by regional salmon recovery plans. The recovery plans provide the actions and rationale for where to invest and when. Each region reports on the actions implemented related to what is recommended in the regional recovery plan. The information about recovery plan implementation is grounded in the regional organizations’ extensive knowledge of recovery issues and recovery progress.