Recovery Plan Progress: Habitat, Hatchery, Harvest, and Hydropower

The Upper Columbia Salmon Recovery Board developed the Upper Columbia Regional Recovery Plan to recover upper Columbia spring Chinook salmon, upper Columbia steelhead trout, and bull trout. The mission of the plan is to restore viable and sustainable populations of salmon, steelhead, and other at-risk species through collaborative, economically sensitive efforts, combined resources, and wise resource management of the upper Columbia region.

Implementation of the plan has included the following:

  • The region completed 519 habitat restoration and protection projects, creating nearly $315 million in economic activity and nearly 2,600 jobs since 1999.
  • Partners have restored more than 100 miles of stream habitat, opened fish passage to more than 300 miles of habitat, and protected at least 5,000 acres of important habitat.
  • The region completed a framework for identifying the most important habitat restoration actions in the highest priority locations. High-priority actions include reconnecting floodplains and side-channel and off-channel habitat and restoring floodplain function. The region also completed numerous projects that address fish passage barriers and improve water quality.

More Work to Do

  • During the past several years, adult salmon and steelhead returns have been some of the lowest on record due to several consecutive years of poor ocean conditions.
  • Endangered spring Chinook remain at low numbers and are particularly sensitive to human disturbances and climate impacts.
  • Upper Columbia salmon and steelhead must migrate more than 500 miles and through seven to nine dams as both juveniles and as adults.
  • Seabirds and predatory fish consume large numbers of smolts migrating to the ocean. Upper Columbia steelhead smolts appear particularly susceptible to predation during their seaward journey.
  • 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, specifically on habitat in key spawning areas.
  • Climate change has led to less snow in the mountains, meaning less water and warmer streams, harming cold-water fish like salmon and steelhead.

Background: Salmon recovery in Washington is driven by regional salmon recovery plans. The recovery plans provide the actions and rationale for where to invest and when. Each region reports on the actions implemented related to what is recommended in the regional recovery plan. The information about recovery plan implementation is grounded in the regional organizations’ extensive knowledge of recovery issues and recovery progress.