DRAFT Upper Columbia River 1

Upper Columbia River


Key Takeaways

  1. The upper Columbia region is an economic hotspot with popular rivers and treasured salmonids. Diverse communities with varying interests are united by an understanding and appreciation for the role salmon play in the economic and cultural vitality of the region.

  2. While continuing to improve habitat, the Upper Columbia Salmon Recovery Board is looking broadly to integrate recovery efforts across all management sectors (habitat, harvest, hatcheries, and hydropower) believing that habitat restoration alone will not achieve recovery.

  3. The region works to make the latest science and data (biological, economical, and social) readily available to project sponsors and regional partners to increase the shared understanding of the biological, physical, and societal implications of ongoing river and forest restoration efforts in this region. See the 2019 Annual/Implementation Report.

Progress and Challenges

  • Populations have generally improved since the time of ESA-listing because of efforts to improve habitat and increase survival across the entire life cycle of salmon.
  • The region has completed 510 habitat restoration and protection projects, creating nearly $300 million in economic activity and nearly 2,000 jobs since 1999.
  • Partners have restored more than 100 miles of stream habitat, opened more than 300 miles to fish passage, and protected at least 5,000 acres of important habitat.
  • Despite long-term progress, recent returns have been some of the lowest on record due to poor ocean conditions, which began in 2014.
  • Endangered spring Chinook continue to struggle to survive in the region, the cause of which is unknown.
  • Birds, sea lions, and large fish in the Columbia River that eat salmon greatly affect the number of fish that return to the region. In some years, the loss can be near 50 percent. The long migration contributes to the species’ vulnerability to predation.
  • Upper Columbia salmon and steelhead must migrate more than 500 miles and over seven to nine dams as both juveniles and as adults.
  • Past forest practices, climate change, and increased human use have contributed to an increase in the frequency and size of wildfires. While wildfires are an important part of the natural ecosystem and offer benefits, some of these wildfires have had severe impacts in the region.
  • Climate change has led to less snow in the mountains meaning less water and warmer streams, harming cold-water fish like salmon and steelhead.

Visit the Regional Recovery Organization’s Web site

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About the Region

Positioned in north central Washington, the Upper Columbia River Salmon Recovery Region encompasses the communities in Chelan, Douglas, and Okanogan Counties. The region is one of superlative habitat, vast working forests, robust hydropower, and preeminent global agriculture. Salmon travel more than 500 miles to reach the region, traversing the heart of Washington, and connecting and sustaining the communities and natural systems they pass through. The region is home to five species of salmon and encompasses the major watersheds of the Wenatchee, Entiat, Methow, and Okanogan Rivers. The region is the caretaker of three salmonid species at risk of extinction—spring Chinook salmon, steelhead, and bull trout.

Salmon Recovery Stories

Enter “Salmon Stories” using the button below to explore story maps from tribes, salmon recovery groups, and agencies.