Recovery Plan Issued for US Northwest Salmon and Steelhead

Recovery Plan Issued for US Northwest Salmon and Steelhead
Recovery Plan Issued for US Northwest Salmon and Steelhead

U.S. fisheries managers unveil a plan to restore dwindling Chinook salmon and steelhead runs

SALMON, Idaho (Reuters) - U.S. fisheries managers have unveiled a plan seeking to restore dwindling runs of salmon and trout that migrate 900 miles up the Snake River from the Pacific to spawning grounds in Idaho while leaving intact their greatest barrier - four hydropower dams.

The recovery plan, proposed on Thursday, calls for a myriad of measures to ease the increasingly treacherous passage of spring-summer Chinook salmon and steelhead trout through the Snake, a major tributary of the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest.

The proposal hinges on a combination of efforts that include improving stream habitat, enhancing water quality and installing structural dam modifications along the Snake River system.

Such measures are designed to give newly hatched fish a better chance at making the journey downstream to the ocean and enabling greater number of adult fish returning from the sea to fight their way 7,000 vertical feet back upstream to spawn.

Environmentalists have pressed for dam removal as the ultimate solution to salmon and steelhead recovery.

The plan represents the latest effort by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to stem the decline of the salmon and steelhead runs, ultimately paving the way for their removal from Endangered Species Act protections.

Snake River spring-summer Chinook were listed as threatened in 1992 after scientists determined the salmon's annual run in the Snake River had dropped to 100,000 adult fish from more than 1 million, according to the NOAA Fisheries agency.

Severe declines in Snake River steelhead, or ocean-going rainbow trout, likewise saw them listed as threatened in 1997.

In addition to physical obstructions posed by four federally operated dams and reservoirs along the Snake River, salmon and steelhead populations have been diminished by water pollution from mining and farming, and reduced stream flows associated with diversions for irrigation.

Some populations of spring-summer Chinook in the Snake River watershed, including runs that once crowded a tributary creek of the Salmon River in Idaho, have vanished.

The cost of implementing the proposed recovery measures is estimated at $139 million, according to Rosemary Furfey, the Snake River recovery coordinator for NOAA Fisheries.

The plan came under immediate fire from conservation groups, which faulted the measures as failing to more fully account for the pivotal role dams play in the deaths of fish populations.

“We’ve got 20 years of mounting science that the dams are the biggest problem and that dam removal is the surest way to recover the species,” said Idaho Rivers United spokesman Greg Stahl.

(Editing by Steve Gorman and Michael Perry)

Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

Recommended for You


New TRUGLO Bowfishing EZ•Rest

May 23, 2019

Brush-style bowfishing arrow rest and kits designed for simplicity and reliability.

Field Tested: Lightweight Raingear

David Draper - May 30, 2019

Our picks for stuffable protection against any weather.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

MLF BPT angler and former Classic champ Casey Ashley has been with Costa del Mar sunglasses his whole career. At ICAST 2019, he shows OSG writer Lynn Burkhead some new products and talks how to pick the right lens color for the water.

Simms' Solarflex Ultra Cool Armor Hoody

John Frazier of Simms Fishing Products helps OSG's Lynn Burkhead understand the new features of the new Simms' Solarflex Ultra Cool Armor sun protection hoody.

New 4-Liter Dry Creek Gear Pouch from Simms

Outdoor Sportsman Group writer Lynn Burkhead gets new product details from Simms Fishing Product's John Frazier about the new waterproof 4-Liter Dry Creek Gear Pouch.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Wild Game

10 Memorial Day Recipes for Your Outdoor BBQ Staff

Celebrate the start of summer with great food for your backyard BBQ or picnic with these...

Other Freshwater

6 Tips for Nighttime Crappie

Keith Sutton - June 19, 2017

Fishing for nighttime crappie gets you out of the summer heat and puts more fish in the...


10 Biggest Catfish World Records of All Time

Jack Vitek - December 08, 2014

Unless you live in Antarctica, the only continent they aren't known to inhabit, there is a...

See More Stories

More News


Bass Fishing Icon Darrell J. Lowrance Passes Away

Lynn Burkhead - March 18, 2019

Lowrance, 80, was founder of the Lowrance Electronics brand and a member of the Bass Fishing...


Did 'Marathon Man' Break His Own World Record?

Lynn Burkhead - September 10, 2018

Jeff Kolodzinski attempted to break his own 24-hour world record for most fish caught.


Back-to-Back East Texas Lunkers Prove Spring Is Near

Lynn Burkhead - March 18, 2019

A pair of giant bass caught in shallow water on back-to-back days in early March is a great...

See More News

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.