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.