Through regional collaboration, significant salmon recovery actions have occurred.
The largest hurdles to fish migration are gone now in Asotin Creek and the Touchet and Tucannon Rivers. Mill Creek is up next and will require U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ participation, significant levels of funding, and community support.
Marine mammals and birds are eating more salmon, compromising salmon recovery.
Progress and Challenges
- Populations of middle Columbia River steelhead are declining now after a period of stability and improvement. Snake River steelhead and spring Chinook have stabilized,. Snake River fall Chinook are increasing and some populations (Joseph Creek and Asotin River steelhead populations) are above recovery goals
- Fish in the Tucannon River are getting the cool, clear water they need to survive. Sediment levels have dropped from 63 percent to 19 percent, all due to restoration and landowner stewardship.
- More than 420 miles of habitat have been opened through the correction of 67 fish passage barriers.
- Installed 528 fish screens to keep young fish out of irrigation systems
- More than 800 flow meters were installed, conserving 72 cubic feet per second of water.
- Restored 8,255 acres (293 miles) of riverbank buffer to help cool water and improve habitat conditions and resiliency
- Protected more than 100 miles of streambank areas by installing livestock fencing
- Reduced sediment to rivers by seeding more than 94,000 acres of agricultural lands
- Improved more than 39 miles of in-stream habitat
- Degraded floodplains, channel structure, and low stream flow (Walla Walla River)
- Predation by marine mammals and birds
- Lack of monitoring to guide future investments and staff to facilitate partnerships
- Maintaining support for salmon recovery when there is limited recreational salmon fishing opportunity
Visit the Regional Recovery Organization’s Web siteClick Here
About the Region
The region encompasses five counties—Asotin, Columbia, Garfield, Walla Walla, and part of Whitman County—and five listed species of salmon. Life is hard for fish in this region. Like in most places in the Northwest, the floodplains, banks, and river channels have been altered, which results in water that can be too warm and too low in the summer yet too high and too fast in the winter. In addition, migrating salmon are being eaten by marine mammals and birds at alarming levels. Fortunately, the strong partnerships between local governments, residents, and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation and Nez Perce Tribe, have made a difference. Sediment and temperatures are at the lowest levels since Endangered Species Act listings occurred. Dikes, levees, and gravel berms are being removed or set back, allowing rivers to interact with floodplains, reducing flood risks and stabilizing summer base flows. In addition, local communities and businesses are benefiting from the investments made for salmon recovery. The economics of habitat restoration and salmon fishing are beginning to be realized.