Issues and Challenges

Prioritizing Fish Passage

The region continues to make removing barriers to fish passage a priority. Many dams and culverts (pipes and other structures that carry streams under roads) block fish passage in the Pend Oreille River and its tributaries. The Kalispel Tribe of Indians and U.S. Forest Service continue to prioritize culvert removals in the LeClerc Creek watershed.

In addition, the water in many streams is often too warm and doesn’t have enough dissolved oxygen to support salmon. And there are too few areas of suitable or accessible habitat.

Habitat Quality is at Risk

In this region, it is estimated that the habitat has declined. While restoration of all lost habitat is neither practical nor necessary, success in recovering salmon runs will require both restoring degraded habitat as well as protecting functioning habitat.

Excess fine sediment from logging roads causes many problems for bull trout, including the following: smothering fish eggs, insects, and plants; clogging fish gills and impairing breathing; increasing water temperature; and decreasing light, which can affect plant growth and the ability for bull trout to see their prey. Worse, excess sediment can change the shape and route of the stream and reduce lateral and vertical stability and the ability to store floodwater. Also, some nutrients and toxics attach to soil particles, hitchhiking a ride to other water bodies.

Large wood, such as trees and root wads, in streams is deficient in many watersheds due to past logging and stream cleaning. To solve this problem, streamside forests are being protected, and areas where forests have been removed are being replanted with native trees and shrubs.

  • 385 miles of stream made accessible
  • 67 blockages, impediments, and barriers impeding passage
  • 30 riparian acres treated*
  • 4 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.

For more information about habitat project actions, visit the Recreation and Conservation Office’s Salmon Recovery Portal and Project Search public databases.

View data on Habitat statewide. Visit the Salmon Data Hub for more of the data behind the indicator charts and graphs used throughout this site.