Regional overview

Overview of the Upper Columbia River valley

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Upper Columbia River region: Key takeaways

1Fish are responding to restoration projects. There are more fish returning to the Entiat, Methow, Okanogan, and Wenatchee Rivers than before work began.

2More work is needed. Though numbers are better than at the time of listing, they still fall short of recovery goals.

3The region has made a commitment to improving habitat and has implemented more than 425 restoration and protection projects since 1996.

Visit the Regional Recovery Organization’s Website:
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2016 progress and challenges


  • The health of fish populations is mixed. Listed fish continue to decline while unlisted stocks have increased steadily
  • Nearly 3,000 acres of habitat have been protected
  • 70 fish barriers were removed, opening 275 miles of habitat
  • More than 160 miles of streams have been protected and restored
  • In the Omak River watershed, the only remaining watershed on the Colville Indian Reservation capable of supporting listed Chinook salmon and steelhead, 36 culverts were replaced, 17 miles of habitat were created, and 50 miles of road were decommissioned


  • Stream Complexity: Human modifications have oversimplified rivers and reduced the variety of habitat for fish
  • Shoreline Habitat: Degraded forests along riverbanks means there are not enough trees to shade and cool the water for fish
  • Water Quality: Stream temperatures are increasing while summer flows are decreasing
  • Uncharacteristic Wildfires: Larger and hotter fires than historic conditions have left thousands of acres severely burned
  • Access to Habitat: Human-made barriers partially or completely block fish from habitat

About our region

Nestled in north central Washington, the Upper Columbia River Salmon Recovery Region includes the rural Chelan, Douglas, and Okanogan Counties. The region is dominated by the Okanogan Wenatchee National Forest, which makes up 70 percent of the land base in Okanogan and Chelan Counties. The region’s Ridgetop-to-River approach reflects the importance of keeping the forests healthy so the rivers stay healthy too. The region encompasses the watersheds of the Entiat, Methow, Okanogan, and Wenatchee Rivers and is home to three salmonid species at risk of extinction—spring Chinook salmon, steelhead, and bull trout.

Salmon recovery stories

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Upper Columbia River salmon recovery region of Washington state