The Snake River Salmon Recovery Board (SRSRB) was self-created for the purpose of developing a strong, locally-based effort to deliver habitat projects for salmon recovery supported by science and local communities. The SRSRB is not a habitat restoration practitioner but plays a pivotal role in coordination and collaboration amongst restoration implementers and resource stakeholders. The SRSRB coordinated the development and updates to the Snake River Salmon Recovery Plan for SE WA (see below) and works to ensure salmon restoration funding is applied to the highest priority restoration projects that best benefit local natural fish populations. The SRSRB provides a platform for stakeholders including local government, tribes and the public to voice opinions, collaborate and contribute in local habitat restoration. Visit the About Us page to learn more about the Snake River Salmon Recovery Board
The federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) requires National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries to write a recovery plan for all listed species. In Washington State, NOAA Fisheries and the Governor’s Salmon Recovery Office (GSRO) committed to working with local partners to develop ESA mandated recovery plans for salmon and steelhead. The Snake River Salmon Recovery Plan (SRSRP) was completed in 2006 and updated in 2011. Species and populations of interest in this plan include bull trout, Asotin Creek summer steelhead, Asotin Creek spring/summer Chinook, Tucannon River summer steelhead, Tucannon River spring/summer Chinook, Walla Walla River summer steelhead, Touchet River summer steelhead, Joseph Creek summer steelhead, Lower Grande Ronde River summer steelhead, and Wenaha River spring/summer Chinook. The Snake River Salmon Recovery Board focuses efforts on the Southeast Washington Management Unit shown here.
The vision for the SRSRP is to “develop and maintain a healthy ecosystem that contributes to the rebuilding of key fish populations by providing abundant, productive, and diverse populations of aquatic species that support the social, cultural, and economic well-being of the communities both within and outside the recovery region”.
Key components of this vision include meeting recovery goals established by NMFS and by USFWS, achieving healthy and harvestable populations of listed species, and realizing these objectives while recognizing that local culture and economies are beneficial to the health of the human environment as well
Historical degradation of salmon habitat over the last 200 years ultimately led to Endangered Species Act listings for salmon and steelhead populations across Washington during the mid-1990s. Human causes for their declines include impacts from hydropower, hatcheries, overharvest, degraded habitat and more recently predation and competition from non-native plant and animal species.
In the Snake River Region, rivers and streams have been altered and degraded by past land management practices that have blocked fish from entering stream, increased sand and silt entering waterways, removed shade trees from the floodplain and log jams from the rivers. Additionally, rivers were straightened and side channels were disconnected increasing damage caused during flood events and leading to widespread construction of river levees and placement of stream bank armor. The cumulative impact of these actions has led to simplified streams that lack the resiliency to protect our salmonids under both average seasonal conditions as well as during severe droughts or floods. The loss of habitat resiliency impacts salmon and steelhead survival by allowing water to drain too quickly from the landscape, eroding salmon spawning nests, injuring juveniles and reducing summer low flows resulting in warm water and the potential for streams to go dry.
The Snake River Salmon Recovery Plan takes an “all H’s” approach (Hatcheries, Harvest, Hydropower, and Habitat) to salmon restoration (see illustration on 4-H’s below), which are all attributed to the ongoing decline in salmon populations across the state. Although Hatcheries, Harvest, and Hydropower are important components of salmon restoration, they are outside the purview of the Snake River Salmon Recovery Board but are being pursued by other entities based on the recovery plan. The SRSRB as a stakeholder provides suggestions and technical support to Hatchery and Harvest co-managers were appropriate. While improving survival in the mainstem Snake and Columbia Rivers and estuary is also an important part of the Columbia basin-wide strategy, and will benefit all salmonid populations, the Snake River Salmon Recovery Board takes a tributary habitat restoration approach of protecting existing high quality or good quality tributary habitat and restoring degraded habitat to specifically benefit Southeast Washington salmon populations in the spawning and rearing life stages. Improved spawning and rearing means that more fish will reproduce, more juveniles will survive to migrate, and consequently more adults will return, even if factors impacting salmonids outside our region remain as they are today.
To see more about the habitat work we’ve done in the Snake River Region, see Snake River Salmon Recovery Board’s Habitat Work Schedule.
Intensely Monitored Watershed
The loss of Pacific salmon and steelhead is a significant ecological, economic, and societal issue facing the Pacific Northwest region of North America. The listing of many salmon and Steelhead populations under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) has resulted in millions of salmon habitat restoration dollars have been spent in the Snake River Salmon Recovery Region (SRSRR). However, little information is available regarding the effectiveness of restoration efforts in SE Washington. The Snake River Salmon Recovery Board (SRSRB) is committed to determining the contribution of restoration on salmon recovery by engaging in the adopting of an Intensively Monitored Watershed (IMW) approach to measuring restoration effectiveness.
An IMW is a large scale, watershed-wide habitat and fish population monitoring approach which is designed to be conducted over a minimum of ten years, including pre- and post-restoration monitoring. The objective of the IMW is to correlate increases in fish populations to measurable habitat restoration actions.
In the Snake River Recovery Region, the Asotin Creek IMW was developed to determine the effectiveness of process-based, low tech restoration techniques using soft engineering on increasing salmonid production. Eco Logical Research Inc. (ELR) was hired to develop the IMW experimental and monitoring design with the support and input of the Snake River Regional Technical Team (RTT), and coordinated by the SRSRB. The Asotin IMW is now in the post-implementation monitoring phase.
The Snake River Salmon Recovery Plan takes an “all H’s” approach to salmon restoration which includes Habitat, Hatcheries, Harvest, and Hydropower. While the Snake River Salmon Recover Board recognizes the importance of all H’s, only Habitat is within the purview of the Board. SRSRB facilitates the identification of monitoring needs and critical data gaps within the region and coordinates with fisheries co-managers (State of Washington and federally recognized Tribes) who are tasked with fisheries management and associated data. Visit the following websites below to learn more: