Improving Salmon and Steelhead Runs
Habitat conditions in each life stage and in tributary streams, the Columbia River, and the ocean, profoundly affect upper Columbia salmon and steelhead populations. Although habitat in most upper Columbia subbasins is good, especially in headwater streams, humans have damaged habitat near valley bottoms. The Upper Columbia Salmon Recovery Board works with partners inside and outside the region to align priorities and implement the region’s recovery plan.
Since spring Chinook, steelhead, and bull trout were listed under the Endangered Species Act, hundreds of projects have been implemented in the upper Columbia region to restore native habitat. The graph below illustrates how habitat projects and money has varied during the past 20+ years.
Project Highlight: Stormy A Restoration Project
Project Sponsor: Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation
Location: Entiat River
Funding: $1.6 million
- Yakama Nation (Fish Accords): $570,535
- Chelan County Public Utility District: $823,161
- Grant County Public Utility District: $230,000
It might look like a large pile of tree debris but to fish, it’s a glorious place for resting and hiding from predators in the Entiat River. Located in Chelan County, the Entiat River joins the Columbia River near the town of Entiat. In the past, the land along the river was logged extensively and the river was cleared of its large tree root wads and logs, a common practice historically. The result was a river channel that didn’t contain the variety of habitats (fast moving water, slow water to rest, deep ponds with cool water for the summer) that salmon need to survive. In addition, the river was disconnected to its adjacent floodplain, where young spring Chinook salmon and steelhead often feed as they grow in preparation for their ocean journeys.
To restore the river, the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation used a complex “inside-out” construction method to rebuild side channels while leaving most of the floodplain undisturbed.
The Yakama Nation increased floodplain access, created perennial side channels, and built engineered log structures at the head of two side-channel inlets to increase the types of habitat in the river. The Stormy A Project restored thousands of feet of side-channel habitat in this important spawning and rearing area of the Entiat River.
This project is part of a larger restoration effort in the middle Entiat River to enhance fish habitat and floodplain connectivity along a 4-mile stretch of the river. Learn more about the larger project.
For more about the region’s habitat, see the regional Habitat Background Summary