Staff from the Upper Columbia Salmon Recovery Board hosted a tour of the Methow Valley for members from the Washington State Salmon Recovery Funding Board (SRFB) on Wednesday, September 17. The tour included visits to habitat restoration sites previously or currently funded by the Funding Board as well as previous habitat restoration sites that were recently burned in the Carlton Complex Fire on upper Beaver Creek. Chris Johnson, President of the Methow Salmon Recovery Foundation, participated in the tour. “This fire represents an excellent opportunity to build on the foundation in the Upper Columbia of finding solutions that work for locals.” Mr. Johnson shared that his group had been facilitating crews to clean up the Methow River below Twisp, which has removed more than 15,000 pounds of debris so far.

Also part of the tour was the official release of a comprehensive report of habitat restoration and protection efforts to date. Of the report, UCSRB Executive Director Derek Van Marter said that “we have made significant progress” being only 7 years into a 30-year plan. Based on staff analysis, the UCSRB estimates that the condition of salmon habitat in the region has improved 4-6% as the result of restoration efforts, with an ultimate goal towards recovery of listed salmon and steelhead at around 15% habitat improvement. Mr. Van Marter also said “I am impressed with the work of our partners across all four sub-basins, and the many landowners who have agreed to participate in this voluntary, non-regulatory approach to recovery. With their help, we have improved habitat, boosted salmon and steelhead numbers spawning naturally, and addressed significant social issues along the way. We still have a long way to go.”

The UCSRB is in the process of reporting progress across each of the four management sectors affecting salmon recovery – habitat, hatcheries, hydropower and harvest. The reports will be used to convene all the major decision-makers in those sectors to facilitate conversations on what more can be done to improve that status of the three listed species in the region – spring Chinook, steelhead, and bull trout.