Upper Columbia River Steelhead
The Upper 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: Endangered on August 18, 1997 (62 FR 43937); reclassified to Threatened on January 5, 2006 (71 FR 833) and August 24, 2009 (74 FR 42605); 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 the Columbia River and its tributaries upstream of the Yakima River to the U.S.-Canada border. Also, steelhead from the following artificial propagation programs:
- Wenatchee River Program
- Wells Complex Hatchery Program (in the Methow River)
- Winthrop National Fish Hatchery Program
- Ringold Hatchery Program
- Okanogan River Program.
Current Population Trends: Upper Columbia River Steelhead Status Reviews and Five-Year Updates
Critical Habitat: Designated September 2, 2005
Protective Regulations: Issued February 1, 2006 (71 FR 5178)
Recovery Plan: Upper Columbia Spring-run Chinook Salmon and Steelhead Recovery Plan (2007)
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, the Colville Confederated Tribes, and the Yakama Nation. Their collective efforts culminated in NOAA Fisheries' adoption of the Upper Columbia Spring-run Chinook Salmon and Steelhead Recovery Plan in 2007.
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 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 Upper Columbia River spring-run Chinook salmon and steelhead are identified below.
Federal & 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 & 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
- 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 - Interior Columbia Basin Area Office
Phone: (509) 962-8911 ext. 805