Tucannon River Habitat Programmatic 2011-2018


Current Materials and Handout:


The Habitat Programmatic

Programmatic Priority

 The Tucannon River Habitat Programmatic was established under management of the Snake River Salmon Recovery Board (SRSRB) in 2011, to aid Bonneville Power Administration (BPA)  in the restoration of habitat limiting factors identified under the Federal Columbia River Power System 2008 BiOp.  The purpose of the Programmatic is to improve Snake River ESU spring Chinook habitat in the Tucannon River by 17% over the life of the BiOp.  The SRSRB manages the implementation of the programmatic as a restoration program funding restoration projects identified and prioritized in the  Conceptual Restoration Plan, Reach 6 to 10 Tucannon R Phase II_November 2011 (Anchor QEA 2011).   Project implementation is conducted by the program partners  including the Columbia Conservation District (CCD), Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR), Nez Perce Tribe (NPT), Tri-State Steelheaders (TSS), Umatilla National Forest (UNF) & Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW).   The restoration priority restoration reach extends from ~river mile 20 upstream to river mile 50, as illustrated in the map of the watershed (Figure 4, left). The restoration goals & objectives are based in sciences and  are supported by the Tucannon River Geomorphic Assessment and Habitat Restoration Study (Anchor April 2011).  The geomorphic assessment (Anchor April 2011), completed by the CCD and the SRSRB Regional Technical Team (RTT) worked to revisit the habitat  limiting factors and life stage most impacting the Tucannon spring Chinook.


Tucannon Habitat Programmatic Partners:

Partner Slide




Goals & Objectives:

The Programmatic restoration goals and  objectives are based in sciences and professional opinion and were identified in the Snake River Salmon Recovery Plan for SE Washington  are supported by the Tucannon River Geomorphic Assessment and Habitat Restoration Study (Anchor April 2011) and the Conceptual Restoration Plan, Reach 6 to 10, Tucannon River Phase II (Anchor November 2011).

The Geomorphic Assessment (Anchor April 2011)  identified rearing and likely winter rearing to be the most limiting life stage and focused on identify habitat conditions basin wide limiting survival within this life stage.  It was identified moving the Tucannon River closer to properly functioning conditions (PFC) would improve habitat for spring Chinook and having the longest lasting impacts while buffering the impacts of climate change.  To achieve PFC, the Tucannon will need to recover riparian habitats however, due to changes in channel complexity/shape and loss of floodplain connectivity the environmental conditions are not present to support  a timely recovery of native riparian forests.

To support the goal of recovering properly functioning conditions we have prioritized the following restoration objectives:

  • Reduce channel confinement/increase floodplain connectivity so that no more than 30% river length is unnaturally confined. (OBJ-4)
  • Increase pool frequency to 15% of stream area (OBJ-3)
  • Increase large woody debris to 2 or more pieces per channel width (OBJ-2)
  • Increase riparian function to 75% of maximum (OBJ-1)
  • Reduce maximum daily water temperature so that it does not exceed 72F at confluence of Pataha Creek (RM 11.8) (OBJ-5)
  • Decrease substrate embeddedness to 20% in all reaches above confluence of Pataha Creek (RM 11.8). (OBJ-6)

The Conceptual Restoration Plan (Anchor QEA 2011 Nov) took these restoration objectives and developed 28 conceptual restoration projects which were prioritized for implementation beginning in 2011.  The priority restoration actions identified in the Conceptual Restoration Plan focus heavily on removing channel and floodplain confining features and increasing channel complexity.  As of 2016, ten of the twenty-eight project have been implemented (Figure 12, below).

2011-2016 completion map

Figure 12:  Tucannon Programmatic Habitat priority restoration area from RM 20 (left red arrow) to RM 50 (right red arrow).  All project reaches identified in the Tucannon Conceptual Restoration Plan completed under the Tucannon Programmatic Habitat and its  partners since 2011 are highlighted in red (13.3 stream miles total).  The Programmatic provided funding to PA-1, PA-3, PA-10, PA-11, PA-14, PA-15, PA-24 and PA-28.  The Programmatic also provide technical support to the Columbia Conservation district in the completion of PA-22, PA-23, PA-26 and Little Tucannon.

Restoration Concepts:

  1. Channel Complexity and Floodplain Connectivity


Project Time Line:

2016: Update coming soon.

2015:  Update coming soon.

2014: In 2015 the Programmatic Partners implemented 4 restoration and 1 design projects under the programmatic, listed as follows:

Project Area 1  was funded in FY14 by BPA, and sponsored by Eric Hoverson of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.  The project was approximately  0.6 miles in length and has increased channel complexity and improved floodplain function through the addition of > 250 pieces of  large wood in 38 structures, an increase of 468% over background.  The project also improved side channel connectivity for 4 side channels 2 existing and 2 that were connected historically increasing side channel habitat by 65% .   In total, the project increased over all perennial channel length by 32% including all perennial main channel and side channels  from a length of 0.78 to 1.14 miles.  (PA-1 Implementation Summary 2014) (Project Area 1 Design)




Left, wood structure placed at the mouth of new side channel for the purpose of stability and habitat.  Right, wood structure placed for the purpose of providing habitat and encouraging floodplain connectivity, note floodplain connectivity in January 2015 during peek flow event.






Project Area 3 ,was funded in FY 13 and  was sponsored by Eric Hoverson of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.  The project reach was approximately 1.36 miles in total length and  focused on increasing channel complexity through the placement of 324 large whole trees in channel and on the adjacent floodplain.  The project improved channel complexity and reduce velocities in the main channel improving rearing and spawning conditions forTucannon spring Chinook.  (PA-3 Implementation Summary 2014) IMG_0339IMG_0305


Left, logs bing transported to the project vi. Vertal Helicopter in 2014.  Right, log structure example of where was built in 2014.







Project Area 14,  was funded in FY-12 and is sponsored by Dave Karl of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Habitat Program.  The project is approximately 2.05 miles in length and will focus on increasing stream channel complexity, improving floodplain connectivity through the construction of engineered log jams and the placement of habitat logs instream.  The project is expected to improve channel complexity and off channel habitats for rearing and spawning spring Chinook through the development of side channels and channel pools associated with structure placement and nature channel evolution.  In 2013, side channels were excavated and wood was staged for construction in 2014.  The project is located at RM 37.15 up to 39.2 beginning just below the Tucannon Rd bridge near Spring Lake upstream to the Tucannon Hatchery access bridge.  PA-14 Post Construction Winter 2014-15  

Project Area 15, was partially funded in FY-13 & FY-14 and is sponsored by the Terry Bruegman of the Columbia Conservation District.  The project is approximately 0.6 miles in length and will focus of developing off channel/side channel habitat and channel complexity.  The project is expected to improve over winter rearing habitat for spring Chinook through the development of a split channel with high complexity and off channel and back water habitats.  The approach will develop a new channel that will contain a high content of wood and structure, while the existing channel will become the subordinate channel with reduced flow and high wood developed complexity.  It is expected that over time the primary flow will flip back and forth between the two new channels.  The project is located between RM 35.35 and 37.15.

Project Area 24 Design,  was funded in FY-14 and is sponsored by Kris Buelow of the Walla Walla Community College.  The project is a design project approximately 0.75 miles in length.  It is anticipated this project will develop and engineered design to perform infrastructure modifications and the placement of large woody structures in channel.  The objective of the design will be to remove and modify channel confine structures and place engineered log jams to provide channel roughness.  The approach will develop improved rearing and holding habitat for spring Chinook and summer steelhead.  The project is located at RM 27.5 – 28.25 and the entire project is located on private property.  It is anticipated that once the design is complete the project would move toward implementation in 2015-2016.

2013: The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife initiated construction on PA-14 with an scheduled completion date in 2014.  The project when completed will increase channel complexity, activate new side channels, and increase floodplain connectivity over the 1.5 mile project reach.  In 2013, the side channel work and materials mobilization was completed with instream work to be completed in July 2014.     The full project information can be viewed at the following link to the State Habitat Work Schedule. The Columbia Conservation District completed the implementation of the PA-26 LWD placement project by installing 17 log jams within the project in August.  A photo point was established near one of the constructed jams to illustrate change over time.  The full project information can be viewed at the following link to the State Habitat Work Schedule. The Snake River Salmon Recovery Board managed the development of construction designs for PA-15

2012: The Snake River Salmon Recovery Board completed the Tucannon Conceptual Restoration Plan for Reach 5 and the Columbia Conservation District Completes the Conceptual Plan for Reach 3 and 4 which completed the planning document for the 50 mile main stem of the Tucannon.

Project Area 10 -was funded by the Salmon Recovery Funding Board & Bonneville Power Administration in FY-11 and was sponsored by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.  Completed in 2012, PA-10 was a large wood replenishment project which spanned Big 4 Lake to Beaver Watson Lk (Tucannon PA-10 Construction Design 2011) along the main stem and side channels.  The project focused on increasing LWD over the 1.8 mile length of the project area by  placing >365 whole trees,  transported by helicopter and placed in stream along with 17 bundles of smaller trees (totaling >500 additional trees) were placed in channel.  The full project information can be viewed at the following link to the State Habitat Work Schedule.  In the winter of 2015 WDFW and SRSRB personnel completed a Rapid Habitat Survey of the entire project reach and side channels (both created and formed since construction).  A kmz file of that survey can be downloaded and viewed in Google Earth at the following Link:  PA-10_Rapid_Habitat_Survey_2015.

2011: The Columbia County Conservation District completed the Tucannon River Geomorphic Assessment (Anchor April 2011) and the Tucannon River Conceptual Restoration Plan (Anchor November 2011) The Columbia Conservation District completed PA-26 Tucannon River Off-Set Dike Design and Implementation.  The project removed channel and floodplain confining river levees from the stream bank and constructed a set back river levee at the margins of the agricultural field.  The full project information can be viewed at the following link to the State Habitat Work Schedule.