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Snake Recovery Region

Snake River The Snake River Salmon Recovery Region is located in the southeastern corner of Washington. Rolling, semi-arid crop and pasture lands are flanked by the forested Blue Mountains to the south.

The Snake River is a major transportation corridor for many of the region's products, which are barged downstream to Columbia River ports. The recovery region is sparsely populated, with residents scattered throughout the area in communities of less than 1,000 people or clustered in a few larger cities.

The recovery plan was completed in June 2005 and approved as an interim plan by NOAA Fisheries Service in March 2006. The plan covers the Walla Walla portion of the middle Columbia steelhead listing in Washington.

Major Factors Limiting Recovery

  • Degraded floodplain and channel structure
  • Riparian degradation
  • Degraded water quality and temperature
  • Impaired stream flows in tributaries
  • Excessive sediment
  • Barriers to fish passage in tributaries
  • Harvest impacts
  • Hydropower system mortality on Columbia River


Hatchery and Harvest Priorities

Hatchery
The hatchery strategy proposed by the SRSRB is partly based on recommendations by NMFS and the Hatchery Genetic Management Plans (HGMPs). The hatchery strategy recognizes that not only can hatcheries play an important role in recovering fish populations; they can contribute to providing fish needed to meet tribal, commercial, and sport harvest as well as recovery and restoration goals. The strategy attempts to balance risks to recovery of listed fish populations with the achievement of harvest objectives. For example it includes the following: there is no trout stocking in streams, hatchery steelhead releases by over 30%, and co-managers have recently agreed to increase fall Chinook salmon and Tucannon spring Chinook salmon hatchery production and releases.

Two strategies for hatchery production are proposed: integrated hatcheries and segregated programs. Integrated programs, which use native broodstock to reduce risk of extinction, are proposed for most subbasins and populations. The exceptions are Tucannon subbasin and Walla Walla subbasin summer steelhead which are proposed to be managed as both integrated and segregated (to provide harvest opportunities while maintaining genetic integrity). The Wenaha River and Joseph Creek, in the Grande Ronde River subbasin, as well as Asotin Creek, are reserved for natural production only.

The number of hatchery fish allowed to spawn in the wild will be controlled to the extent possible. This strategy is designed to reduce any potential negative effects of hatchery fish on naturally produced fish populations. Hatchery programs will be managed on a case-by-case basis to address specific population concerns. It is expected that tributary hatchery management plans will be developed by local fisheries managers in coordination with NMFS.

Harvest
The recovery region is not proposing any specific harvest strategies through this planning process. The SRSRB does recognize, however, that harvest strategies can affect fishery opportunities for Chinook salmon and steelhead in the recovery region and that continuing dialog with the lower Columbia fishery managers is desirable.

Mainstem Columbia River harvest guidelines are developed under the Columbia River Fisheries Management Plan. This plan is periodically extended as agreed upon by federal, state and tribal fish managers under the U.S. vs. Oregon court case.

As noted above, management strategies are proposed primarily through venues other than salmon restoration planning. Among these are proposals for terminal fisheries for Snake River spring/summer Chinook salmon in the Snake, Tucannon, and Grande Ronde rivers and Snake River fall Chinook salmon in the lower Snake River and the lower Grande Ronde River. Allowable take for these fisheries would be based on a "sliding scale" keyed to counts of returning adults at Snake River dams. Although details have yet to be developed, it is anticipated that allowable harvest would generally represent the difference between total returns and the sum of fish needed for increasing abundance of component listed populations to approved levels and broodstock needs for existing hatcheries (many of which are considered a part of listed ESUs) although very limited harvest may occur at even low fish abundance levels. In general, allowable harvest would increase with the number of fish in the return, since the difference between run size and recovery/broodstock needs would increase. Over time, as regional habitat is improved through restoration, the productivity and abundance of listed populations would increase to the point where target escapement numbers for hatchery fish would decrease, allowing additional harvest.

Recovery Plans

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For more information on
salmon recovery and conservation, please contact
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Population
Human Population
Human Population: 213,508
Listed Fish
Listed Fish

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Organization(s)
Regional Recovery Organization
Snake River Salmon Recovery Board

Tribes
Federally Recognized Tribes
Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation
Nez Perce Tribe

Counties