The Upper Columbia Salmon Recovery Board (UCSRB) developed the Upper Columbia Spring Chinook Salmon and Steelhead Recovery Plan plan for the recovery of Upper Columbia spring Chinook (listed as endangered on March 24, 1999), Upper Columbia steelhead (listed as endangered on August 18, 1997; reclassified as threatened on January 5, 2006; and as a result of a legal challenge, reinstated to endangered status on June 13, 2007), and bull trout (the coterminous U.S. population was listed as threatened on November 1, 1999).
The Board intends to approach salmon recovery efforts in a transparent and evolving process to restore fish populations for ecosystems and people while enhancing the economic viability of the region.
The Recovery Plan is an outgrowth and culmination of several conservation efforts in the Upper Columbia Basin, including current efforts related to the Endangered Species Act (ESA), state and tribal-sponsored recovery efforts, subbasin planning, and watershed planning.
The Recovery Plan is to be used to guide federal agencies charged with species recovery. In and of itself, the plan is a non-regulatory document. The goal of the plan is to offer options for future actions that strive to secure the survival of species. The plan is limited to address listed salmonid species. If any threatened or endangered species were introduced into an area where it has been designated as extirpated, this population would be treated as an experimental population under Section 10(j) or other mechanisms under ESA and would not increase ESA liabilities for landowners.
The Recovery Plan is intended for implementation within the Upper Columbia River Basin, which includes the Columbia River and its tributaries upstream of the confluence of the Yakima River to the base of Chief Joseph Dam. The Upper Columbia Basin consists of six major “subbasins” (Crab, Wenatchee, Entiat, Lake Chelan, Methow, and Okanogan subbasins), several smaller watersheds, and the mainstem Columbia River. This area captures the distribution of Upper Columbia River spring Chinook, steelhead, and bull trout.
Currently, there are three independent populations of spring Chinook within the Upper Columbia Evolutionarily Significant Unit (Wenatchee, Entiat, and Methow) and five steelhead populations (Wenatchee, Entiat, Methow, Okanogan and Crab Creek populations) within the Upper Columbia steelhead Distinct Population Segment (DPS). Spring Chinook in the U.S. portion of the Okanogan subbasin have been extirpated, while Chinook in Canada have been proposed for endangered listing under the “Species at Risk Act.” There are three “core” areas supporting bull trout populations (Wenatchee, Entiat, and Methow subbasins) and two areas designated as “unknown occupancy” (Lake Chelan and Okanogan subbasins) in the Upper Columbia Basin.
The Recovery Plan emphasizes recovery of three spring Chinook populations (Wenatchee, Entiat, and Methow populations), four steelhead populations (Wenatchee, Entiat, Methow, and Okanogan populations), and recovery of bull trout within the Wenatchee, Entiat, and Methow subbasins.