The Programmatic is a Tucannon watershed-wide restoration “umbrella” project, funded by the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) and managed by the Snake River Salmon Recovery Board (SRSRB) for the purpose of improving spring Chinook spawning and rearing habitat. The SRSRB is the “umbrella” project sponsor and provides an advisory role in guiding BPA funding for tributary habitat restoration. The Programmatic has operated in support of the restoration partners in the implementation of the Tucannon Conceptual Restoration Plan (Anchor 2011) since 2011, providing program operations support, management organization, implementation assistance and program reporting. The restoration plan (Anchor 2011) identified and prioritized spring Chinook habitat limiting factors and developed habitat restoration actions that best address the priority limiting factors within 45 conceptual restoration projects over 50 miles of the Tucannon River. The restoration plan (Anchor 2011) identifies habitat complexity and floodplain connectivity as the limiting factors impacting salmonid habitat the greatest.
The Programmatic goal is to restore habitat function as well as channel and floodplain processes within the spring Chinook priority restoration reaches of the Tucannon River, leading to improved spawning and rearing habitats for naturally-produced spring Chinook. The primary objectives of the Programmatic and its implementation partners are to improve channel complexity and floodplain connectivity to boost naturally functioning conditions and ecosystem resilience.
The Tucannon River in Southeast Washington flows north out of the Blue Mountains through Columbia County into the Snake River, and makes up the ancestral fishing and hunting boundary between the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR) and the Nez Perce Tribes (NPT). The Tucannon watershed currently supports the only remaining population of spring Chinook in the lower Snake River, as well as summer steelhead, fall Chinook and bull trout. Early fish estimates show the Tucannon once produced tens of thousands of salmon annually, but currently produces only hundreds annually. In 1990, spring and fall Chinook, summer steelhead and bull trout were listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) requiring protection and specific management by the action agencies. The Tucannon River salmonid populations are a priority for habitat restoration in the Salmon Recovery Plan for SE Washington (2011) and to the partners of the Tucannon Habitat Programmatic.
Reconnecting floodplain and restoring habitat complexity increases ecosystem diversity and resilience, thereby improving salmon and steelhead survival and increasing the number of individuals the river can feed. River habitat with a higher population capacity, even when the numbers of returning adults are low, allows for quicker population recovery from poor conditions outside the Tucannon and reduces the chances of losing the lower Snake River populations entirely.
To learn more about restoration in the Tucannon, click the three photos at the top of this page and also see the Tucannon Story Map.