Salmon Populations Vary
The Snake River Salmon Recovery Region hosts 12 populations of salmon, steelhead trout, and bull trout. This report only includes the Washington components of the larger Endangered Species Act-listed Snake River population groups that extend into Oregon and Idaho. Population status and trends in the region are variable, with some near extinction and others nearing recovery goals.
The number of Snake River steelhead varies but is decreasing overall–Tucannon River steelhead are below recovery target, Asotin River and Joseph Creek steelhead are above target, and insufficient data exist for the Grande Ronde River. Fish passage barriers in Mill Creek continue to restrict the distribution of the Walla Walla population.
Spring/summer Chinook populations are near extinction while fall Chinook recently have exceeded recovery goals. Spring Chinook are in major trouble; the Tucannon subpopulation might be the most imperiled population in the state.
Recent Efforts to Reintroduce Salmon are Promising
The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation are leading efforts to reintroduce spring Chinook to the Walla Walla River and the Nez Perce Tribe is leading efforts to reintroduce coho to the Snake River basin. Although both species are extirpated, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration-led Columbia Basin Partnership has established adult abundance goals for these populations.
Bull trout populations are stable or decreasing although significant data is limited.