Upper Columbia River Spring-run Chinook Salmon
The Upper Columbia River spring-run Chinook salmon is an endangered species. NOAA Fisheries’ West Coast Region, along with the Science Centers, work to protect and conserve this species under the Endangered Species Act.
ESU Description: This evolutionarily significant unit, or ESU, includes naturally spawned spring-run Chinook salmon originating from Columbia River tributaries upstream of the Rock Island Dam and downstream of Chief Joseph Dam (excluding the Okanogan River subbasin). Also, spring-run Chinook salmon from the following artificial propagation programs:
- Twisp River Program
- Chief Joseph spring Chinook Hatchery Program (Okanogan release)
- Methow Program; Winthrop National Fish Hatchery Program
- Chiwawa River Program
- White River Program
- Nason Creek Program.
Current Population Trends: ESA Status Reviews and 5-Year Updates for Upper Columbia River Spring-run Chinook Salmon
Critical Habitat: Designated September 2, 2005
Protective Regulations: Issued under ESA Section 9
Recovery Plan: Upper Columbia Spring-run Chinook and Upper Columbia Steelhead Recovery Plan (2007)
Reintroduction Effort: Experimental Population Designation
Reintroduction of Spring-run Chinook Salmon to Washington’s Okanogan River
- Overview of the reintroduction of spring-run Chinook salmon to Washington’s Okanogan River
- Request to designate an experimental population of spring-run Chinook salmon (2010)
- Final Rule to designate an experimental population of spring-run Chinook salmon (79 FR 40004; July 11, 2014)
- Environmental Assessment to designate and reintroduce an experimental population of spring-run Chinook (2014)
- Species Reintroductions on the West Coast
NOAA Fisheries delineated eight recovery domains, or geographic recovery planning areas, for the ESA-listed salmon and steelhead populations on the West Coast. The Upper Columbia Recovery Sub-domain is one of three sub-domains within the Interior Columbia Recovery Domain (see map of recovery domains). This sub-domain is home to two ESA-listed salmon and steelhead species:
- Upper Columbia River spring-run Chinook salmon
- Upper Columbia River steelhead
NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region manages recovery planning and implementation for this sub-domain through its Interior Columbia Basin Area Office.
Following the listings of Upper Columbia spring-run Chinook salmon and Upper Columbia steelhead, NOAA Fisheries worked with its local partners, most notably the Upper Columbia Salmon Recovery Board, to develop a recovery plan that addresses the biological needs of the populations and the threats they face. The Upper Columbia Salmon Recovery Board is a coalition of representatives from Chelan, Douglas, and Okanogan counties in Washington, the Colville Confederated Tribes, and the Yakama Nation. Their collective efforts culminated in NOAA Fisheries' 2007 adoption of the Upper Columbia Spring-run Chinook Salmon and Steelhead Recovery Plan.
The recovery plan provides actions to improve habitat conditions, ensure safe fish passage, and allow for sustainable harvest opportunities, among others. The plan identifies 306 actions that will contribute to the long-term recovery of Upper Columbia River spring-run Chinook salmon and steelhead.
The Upper Columbia Salmon Recovery Board is working with an Implementation Team, including a leader, three lead entity representatives (one from each county), the Upper Columbia Regional Technical Team, local, state, federal, tribal resource management agencies, and other stakeholders to implement the voluntary plan. The Implementation Team also is responsible for tracking progress, identifying milestones and benchmarks, and sequencing recovery tasks.
Since the plan's adoption, partners have made progress in several key areas, including:
- removing barriers to migration and opening habitat to spawning and rearing fish;
- improving irrigation efficiency and screening irrigation intakes;
- restoring riparian habitat to improve water quality and quantity; and
- enhancing in-stream habitat for fish in the Wenatchee, Entiat, Methow, and Okanogan basins.
Partnerships for Recovery
Salmon 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 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 recovery.
Key partners working with us to restore Upper Columbia River spring-run Chinook salmon and steelhead are identified below.
Federal and State Partners
- Bonneville Power Administration
- U.S. Forest Service
- U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
- Bureau of Reclamation
- Washington Governor's Office
- Washington State Recreation & Conservation Office
- Washington State Department of Fish & Wildlife
- Washington State Office of Regulatory Assistance
Local and Private Partners
- Upper Columbia Salmon Recovery Board
- Bonneville Environmental Foundation
- Methow Restoration Council
- Foster Creek Conservation District
- Trout Unlimited
- Columbia Cascade Fisheries Enhancement Group
- Chelan County
- Douglas County
- Okanogan County
- Chelan Douglas Land Trust
- Methow Conservancy
- Cascadia Conservation District
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 - Interior Columbia Basin Area Office
Phone: (509) 962-8911 ext. 805