Upper Columbia River region habitat

Restoring habitat has been key to 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.

Accomplishments include the following:

  • The Methow Salmon Recovery Foundation is conserving 12 acres in the middle Methow River, expanding protected land and creating an opportunity for further restoration.
  • Chelan County is restoring a half-mile of Nason Creek to increase salmon habitat.
  • The Methow Conservancy is conserving 29 acres, including a half-mile of riverfront and floodplain along the Twisp River.
  • Trout Unlimited is encasing 2.5 miles of the Wenatchee River in pipes for irrigation, saving water and improving water quality. The group also is building a channel on Icicle Creek for fish to travel upstream from Boulder Field.
  • The Cascadia Conservation District has restored 16 acres of riparian1 buffer by planting nearly 8,000 trees and shrubs, installing 250 feet of livestock exclusion fencing along 1.5 miles of critical salmon habitat. The district also completed irrigation efficiency projects.

Indicator data

Habitat Projects

 What does this indicator mean?

Habitat Quality

What does this indicator mean?


Most streams monitored by the Department of Ecology are found to have low amounts of wood when compared to relatively natural conditions.


More monitoring is necessary to determine any trends for this data in this region.


Increased sediment entering local streams impacts salmon and trout
Stream monitoring by the Department of Ecology shows that there is too much sediment in the streams included in the study. Excess sediment harms fish in the salmon family by smothering fish eggs, changing the shape and route of the stream, and reducing the stream’s capacity to hold floodwater or provide cover for fish. More monitoring is necessary to determine any trends for this data in this region. More than 18.5 percent sediment is considered too much for salmon and trout.



Copper levels in the streams monitored by the Department of Ecology in this region appear to be fairly low, which is good for fish in the salmon family.


The region appears to have little human disturbance in the riparian areas studied.


More monitoring is necessary in this region to determine any trends for this data.

For more information about habitat project actions, visit the Recreation and Conservation Office’s Habitat Work Schedule and Project Search public databases.

Visit How we measure for background about this data, and our Salmon Data Portal for original source data behind the indicator charts and graphs used throughout this site.

1. Riparian areas are shorelines, streambanks, wetlands, and floodplains next to bodies of water that support and protect the health of the water.