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Lower Columbia Recovery Region

Cowlitz Sedimentary The Lower Columbia Salmon Recovery region extends from the coast to the Columbia Gorge, and is mainly forest and rural in nature. Human population centers are mainly along the Interstate-5 corridor and its intersection with the Columbia River. The region encompasses 5,700 square miles. It includes the entire Washington portion of the mainstem and estuary of the lower Columbia River, as well as 18 major and a number of lesser tributary watersheds (the White Salmon basin was omitted at the request of Klickitat County). In all, the tributaries total more than 1,700 river miles.

Major Factors Limiting Recovery

  • Degraded floodplain and channel structure
  • Degraded nearshore/marine and estuarine conditions
  • Riparian degradation and loss of in-river woody material
  • Degraded water quality and temperature
  • Impaired instream flows
  • Barriers to fish passage
  • Sediment
  • Hatchery impacts
  • Harvest impacts
  • Predator harassment of spawning fish

Hatchery and Harvest Priorities

The Conservation and Sustainable Fisheries plan (CSFP) has been developed to:
  • meet WDFW's responsibilities outlined in the Lower Columbia River Salmon Recovery Plan
  • address the HSRG suggested solutions and achieve HRSG standards for primary, contributing and stabilizing populations
  • achieve recovery goals if harvest and habitat actions set forth in the Lower Columbia Fish Recovery Plan are implemented and produce expected results
  • support sustainable sport and commercial fisheries, including increased levels of selective fisheries
  • fulfill obligations set forth in the current U.S. v. Oregon agreement
  • result in improved fitness of naturally produced salmon and steelhead
To accomplish this, the CSFP calls for three strategies:
  1. Move forward on hatchery and harvest actions that can be implemented now, knowing that habitat actions will require years to become fully effective.
  2. Modification of hatchery production levels to ensure that fitness improvement goals set forth in the recovery plan are achieved and to achieve HSRG operational standards
  3. Implementation of strategies to reduce the percentage of hatchery fish on the spawning grounds:
    • Implement hatchery production changes: Strategically realign hatchery production to ensure production levels are consistent with Recovery Plan population classifications and fitness improvement goals. In addition to production levels, the C&SFP also identifies whether integrated or segregated programs should be implemented. New hatchery production programs will also be consistent with HSRG standards.
    • Implement harvest reform actions: Increase the selectivity of sport and commercial fisheries for the purpose of increasing harvest of hatchery produced salmon and steelhead. Implement mark selective sport fisheries with appropriate mark rates. Investigate alternative commercial fishing gears and methods that will allow for the implementation of mark selective fisheries in the lower Columbia River. Begin implementation of mark selective commercial fisheries in the lower Columbia River by 2015 at the latest
    • Monitor natural populations: Expand monitoring levels to include natural adult escapement estimates, including hatchery contributions, for all species and tributaries in the lower Columbia River. In key lower Columbia River tributaries juvenile production will be monitored to assess total outmigrants by species. Data collected will be used to evaluate the effectiveness of implementation of hatchery and harvest reform actions described above - are the actions achieving the expected results.
    • Genetic Fitness Assessments: In key tributaries of the lower Columbia collect genetic information for all species. Information will be used to determine how genetic make-up of natural populations is shifting in response to changes resulting from implementation of the recovery plan. Genetic information will assist in evaluating fitness assumptions inferred during the HSRG analysis of lower Columbia River hatchery programs.

For more information on
salmon recovery and conservation, please contact
the WDFW Fish Program.

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Human Population
Human Population: 544,000
Listed Fish
Listed Fish

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Regional Recovery Organization
Lower Columbia Fish Recovery Board

Federally Recognized Tribes
Cowlitz Tribe