Wild Salmon Continue to Need Help
The Upper Columbia Salmon Recovery Region supports 16 populations of salmon, steelhead trout, and bull trout, 13 of which are listed under the federal Endangered Species Act. Generally, less than 2 percent of the smolt return as adults. That is because many young fish die on their journeys to the ocean or are eaten by other fish or marine mammals in the ocean. Poor ocean conditions, especially in 2014-2019, have reduced food available for young salmon, further impacting their survival.
A total of 1,554 spring Chinook salmon (639 natural-origin and 915 hatchery-origin) returned to the upper Columbia in 2020, which was the second lowest return to the region since 1999 and well below the delisting target of 4,500 natural-origin spawners.
A total of 2,375 steelhead (849 natural-origin and 1,526 hatchery-origin) returned in 2020, which was the third lowest adult return in the past 40 years. The number of natural-origin returning steelhead spawners was much lower than the delisting target of 3,000.