Lower Columbia River Steelhead
The lower Columbia River steelhead is a threatened species. NOAA Fisheries’ West Coast Region, along with the Science Centers, work to protect and conserve this species under the Endangered Species Act.
ESA Listing Status: Threatened on March 19, 1998 (63 FR 13347) and January 5, 2006 (71 FR 834); updated April 14, 2014 (79 FR 20802)
DPS Description: This distinct population segment, or DPS, includes naturally spawned anadromous O. mykiss (steelhead) originating below natural and manmade impassable barriers from rivers between the Cowlitz and Wind Rivers (inclusive) and the Willamette and Hood Rivers (inclusive); excludes such fish originating from the upper Willamette River basin above Willamette Falls. This DPS includes steelhead from the following artificial propagation programs:
- Cowlitz Trout Hatchery Late Winter-run Program (Lower Cowlitz)
- Kalama River Wild Winter-run and Summer-run Programs
- Clackamas Hatchery Late Winter-run Program
- Sandy Hatchery Late Winter-run Program
- Hood River Winter-run Program
- Lewis River Wild Laterun Winter Steelhead Program
- Upper Cowlitz Wild Program
- Tilton River Wild Program
Current Population Trends: Lower Columbia River Steelhead Status Reviews and Five-Year Updates
Critical Habitat: Designated September 2, 2005
Protective Regulations: Issued June 28, 2005 (70 FR 37159)
Recovery Plan: Recovery Plan for Lower Columbia River Coho Salmon, Lower Columbia River Chinook Salmon, Columbia River Chum Salmon, and Lower Columbia River Steelhead (2013)
NOAA Fisheries delineated eight recovery domains, or geographic recovery planning areas, for the ESA-listed salmon and steelhead populations on the West Coast. The Lower Columbia River Recovery Sub-domain is part of the Willamette/Lower Columbia Recovery Domain (see map of recovery domains). Within the sub-domain, there are four ESA-listed salmon and steelhead species:
- Lower Columbia River Chinook salmon
- Lower Columbia River coho salmon
- Columbia River chum salmon
- Lower Columbia River steelhead
NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region manages recovery planning and implementation for this sub-domain through its Oregon and Washington Coastal Area Office.
Working with its federal, state, tribal, and local partners, NOAA Fisheries published a Recovery Plan for Lower Columbia River Coho Salmon, Lower Columbia River Chinook Salmon, Columbia River Chum Salmon, and Lower Columbia River Steelhead (July 2013).
The plan provides a road map to recover four salmon and steelhead species that spawn and rear in the lower Columbia River or its tributaries in Oregon and Washington. The Lower Columbia Recovery Plan is based on three locally developed plans, each of which covers a different portion of the species’ range:
- Lower Columbia River Conservation and Recovery Plan for Oregon Populations of Salmon and Steelhead (2010) prepared by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife;
- ESA Salmon Recovery Plan for the White Salmon River Watershed (2013) prepared by NOAA Fisheries; and
- Washington Lower Columbia Salmon Recovery and Fish & Wildlife Subbasin Plan (2010) prepared by the Lower Columbia Fish Recovery Board.
Two additional documents prepared by NOAA Fisheries informed the development of the Lower Columbia Recovery Plan:
- The Columbia River Estuary ESA Recovery Plan Module for Salmon & Steelhead and
- The Recovery Plan Module: Mainstem Columbia River Hydropower Projects.
Partnerships for Recovery
Salmon and steelhead recovery requires action at all levels of government and by all stakeholders to be effective. Partnerships among federal, state, local, and tribal entities, together with non-governmental and private organizations, are key to restoring healthy salmon and steelhead runs and ensuring the cultural, economic, and environmental benefits they provide. Implementing recovery actions is especially critical at the local level. NOAA Fisheries supports this by providing scientific and policy support, providing funding as available, and working with our partners to improve regulatory mechanisms for salmon and steelhead recovery.
Key partners working to restore lower Columbia River salmon and steelhead are identified below.
Federal and State Partners
- Washington Governor's Office
- Washington State Recreation & Conservation Office
- Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife
- Oregon Governor's Natural Resources Office
- Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board
- Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife
Local and Private Partners
- Lower Columbia Fish Recovery Board
- Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership
- Klickitat County
- Lower Columbia River Recovery Planning Stakeholder Team
- Oregon Watershed Councils
- Steelhead Status Reviews and Five-Year Updates
- Steelhead Federal Register Notices
- Salmon and Steelhead Federal Register Rules and Notices prior to August 2019
- Steelhead Maps & GIS Data
- Salmon Publications
- Steelhead Publications
- Salmon and Steelhead Hatcheries on the West Coast
- Learn about what you can do to help endangered and threatened salmon and steelhead recover
- Recent Stories
If you have questions, would like to learn more about recovery efforts in your watershed, or would like to get involved directly, please contact:
West Coast Region - Oregon and Washington Coastal Area Office