The Lower Columbia River Basin once supported thriving salmon and steelhead runs. Lower Columbia River Chinook, steelhead, coho, and Columbia River chum returned in droves to spawn in the lower river and its tributaries. All four species are in decline and are now protected under the Endangered Species Act.
A regional effort to plan for the recovery of the lower river’s salmon and steelhead runs has resulted in adoption of the ESA Recovery Plan for Lower Columbia River Coho Salmon, Lower Columbia River Chinook Salmon, Columbia River Chum Salmon, and Lower Columbia River Steelhead by NOAA Fisheries.
The plan is based on the analyses and strategies developed in three locally developed recovery plans—the Lower Columbia River Conservation and Recovery Plan for Oregon Populations of Salmon and Steelhead, ESA Salmon Recovery Plan for the White Salmon River Subbasin, and the Washington Lower Columbia Salmon Recovery and Fish & Wildlife Subbasin Plan.
The plan is the product of a multi-year, collaborative process that included tribes, government entities, industry, environmental groups, and the public.
The plan calls for protecting and restoring high-quality tributary habitat and improving access to tidal wetlands and marshes in the estuary.
It also calls for effective flow management at large storage reservoirs in the interior Columbia Basin and safe passage of fish that spawn above Bonneville Dam, as well as dams on the Cowlitz and Lewis rivers.
The hatchery and harvest strategies focus on providing fish for commercial, recreational, and tribal fisheries, while ensuring management measures adequately protect and allow rebuilding of the wild populations.
The plan identifies additional actions, including predation management, that will also contribute to recovery.
Washington’s Lower Columbia Fish Recovery Board will lead implementation of actions in southwest Washington, and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife implementation coordinator and stakeholder team will lead recovery plan implementation in Oregon.
In the White Salmon, NOAA Fisheries, in coordination with the Washington Gorge Implementation Team, will oversee implementation efforts; while the Lower Columbia Recovery Planning Steering Committee will coordinate implementation throughout the entire region.
source: NOAA Fisheries