Columbia River Calling

Basin Maps, Pt 8 – Salmon in the Columbia River Basin

After talking about ecosystem-based function yesterday, I thought I would share a set of maps illustrating the state of salmon and steelhead in the basin as well as recovery efforts for the species.

Citizen's Guides to the 2013 Comprehensive Evaluation - ESA Listed Salmon and Steelhead

Citizen’s Guides to the 2013 Comprehensive Evaluation – ESA Listed Salmon and Steelhead

Description: The Citizen’s Guide to the 2013 Comprehensive Evaluation: Protecting Salmon and Steelhead in the Columbia River Basin includes a variety of maps related to salmon and steelhead recovery efforts.  The map above shows the general areas where salmonid species are listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The map below depicts listed fish areas, key habitat areas, and projects geared towards improving salmon and steelhead habitat.  In short, it illustrates part of what is being done to recover the various species.

Source: US Army Corps of Engineers, Bonneville Power Administration, and the Department of the Interior

Date: 2013

What is unique: The two maps together show two sides of the recovery picture– illustrate where salmon species have declined dramatically to the point of being in danger of extinction (endangered under the ESA) or close to being endangered (threatened under the ESA).

What’s missing: The historic extent of these species and their historic population sizes would be a great third companion map.  While that map is not included in the Citizen’s Guide, I found a version of that map by another source (see below in the bonus maps).

Why are salmon important in Treaty review conversations?

Salmon are an icon of the Pacific Northwest and hold great cultural and spiritual value to Tribal Nations in the US and First Nations in Canada.  Various stakeholders and members of the public on both sides of the border want to pursue fish passage past Chief Joseph and Grand Coulee dams in the US (along with dams in British Columbia) to allow for the reintroduction of salmon to Canada.  They view the Treaty reviews as an opportunity to spur international dialogue and action on the issue.  The US Regional Recommendation states in the 4th bullet of the section on ecosystem function that:

“The United States should pursue a joint program with Canada, with shared costs, to investigate and, if warranted, implement restored fish passage and reintroduction of anadromous fish on the   main stem Columbia River to Canadian spawning grounds. This joint program would proceed on an incremental basis, beginning with a reconnaissance-level investigation, and continue with implementation actions. All such federal actions at the Chief Joseph and Grand Coulee projects are subject to congressional authorization and appropriation. Modernized Treaty operations should not interfere with other opportunities to restore fish passage and reintroduction of fish in other blocked areas of the Columbia River Basin.”

However, the Province of BC views fish passage as a domestic matter.  More specifically it states in its Treaty review decision that, “the management of anadromous salmon populations is the responsibility of the Government of Canada and that restoration of fish passage and habitat, if feasible, should be the responsibility of each country regarding their respective infrastructure.”

Bonus maps!

The Economist has a map depicting salmon portions of the Columbia River Basin that are accessible to salmon and areas of habitat that are blocked by dams.

The Columbia Basin Fish Accords play a key role in salmon and steelhead recovery efforts.  The map below depicts initiatives taken under the Fish Accords.

David Badders created a nice map for The Oregonian that notes some statistics for salmon recovery.

Salmon Status - by David Badders, The Oregonian

Salmon Status – by David Badders, The Oregonian

 One of the maps in the Atlas of the Columbia River Basin (featured in part 4 of the Basin Maps series) is devoted to fish hatcheries, another component of salmon restoration.

Fish Hatcheries page of the Atlas of the Columbia River Basin

Fish Hatcheries page of the Atlas of the Columbia River Basin

 The Federal Caucus (the group of US federal agencies working together for salmon recovery) host a web-based map titled, “Salmon Recovery Hydropower” from 2012.  I was not able to get the appropriate layers to load, but perhaps you will have more luck.

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