Innovative Efforts Needed
Recent declines in steelhead trout and salmon numbers in the Yakima and Klickitat Rivers Basins drive efforts to understand how flow levels, temperature, water quality, habitat conditions, infrastructure, and predation by birds and other fish combine to impact steelhead and salmon. Understanding how to work in an integrated manner to manage flows, restore habitat, improve infrastructure, and reduce predation to increase smolt survival is one of the highest priorities for recovery efforts. Climate change is making this work even more imperative. For example, as temperatures in the lower Yakima River increase, weed growth in the water expands, sometimes clogging infrastructure and blocking fish passage. New work to address these issues is hitting the ground in the Yakima River basin as partners rework dams to keep fish out of high-predation backwaters, release pulse flows to move fish out before the river warms, develop habitat projects that enhance cool water refuge areas, and deploy a new water weed harvester. These innovative efforts need to continue even though they are often hard to fund with traditional habitat-focused sources.