Our Story

Fresh, clean water. Abundant forests that support a diversity of life. Thriving communities that live off of and recreate in these natural areas. This describes the many communities within the Upper Columbia.

While countless individuals participated in the development and now implementation of the recovery plan, the late Esther Stefaniw, Chelan County Commissioner and one of the founding board members, played an instrumental role in rallying the region around locally led salmon recovery. In the spring of 1999, the Upper Columbia Salmon Recovery Board convened, and it was here that Esther made her famous proclamation, “If you think that you are a stakeholder, then you are!” Her dedication and spirit brought the UCSRB together and set it on a course for success. Esther demanded from us a commitment to the local process, at the individual citizen level, and never wavered from that ideal. Esther firmly believed that only through a grassroots process would salmon recovery efforts realize their conservation and economic goals. It is the UCSRB desire to further Esther’s ideals and implement river restoration and protection efforts for the good of people and fish in North Central Washington.

The Upper Columbia River spring Chinook salmon (O. tshawytscha) ESU was listed as endangered under the ESA on March 24, 1999 (64 FR 14307). The Upper Columbia River steelhead (O. mykiss) DPS was listed as endangered on August 18, 1997 (62 FR 43937), and reclassified as threatened on January 5, 2006 (71 FR 834). The 2006 reclassification of the steelhead DPS was invalidated as the result of a decision in U.S. District Court on June 13, 2007 (Trout Unlimited, et al. v. Lohn, No. CV-06-1493-ST), which reverted the listing of the Upper Columbia steelhead DPS to endangered. On appeal by NOAA, and remand from the US Court of Appeals 9th District, on June 18, 2009 the court reversed its earlier ruling, reinstating UCR steelhead as threatened, where it stands today.

The Upper Columbia Salmon Recovery Board, its partners, and the community developed the Upper Columbia Spring Chinook Salmon and Steelhead Recovery Plan through a local, grass-roots approach. The road map to success includes solutions that work for people and the species that depend on our abundant resources.