Strategies articulate the long-term approach to achieve changes needed to meet goals, basinwide objectives, and the program’s vision. Written with a long-term perspective, these strategies should consider future as well as current environmental conditions. Each of these basinwide strategies consists of a programmatic strategy statement, rationale, guiding principles, general measures to implement that guidance, and, as relevant, specific measures that transcend specific subbasins, such as research, monitoring, and evaluation. The guidance from these basinwide strategies informs planning and implementation at the subbasin and other geographic levels.

The program’s fundamental, overarching strategy is the ecosystem function strategy. This overarching strategy responds to the direction in the Act and of the program’s independent scientific groups to consider the basin as a system and not as isolated components. The approaches described under this strategy emphasize protecting quality habitat and mitigating the Columbia River Basin ecosystem through regeneration of natural processes, rather than through a primary reliance on technological solutions. Providing ecosystem guidance that can be implemented in a meaningful manner, however, is more easily conveyed when addressing aspects of interest individually. This broad strategy is subdivided into a set of sub-strategies specific to these aspects such as habitat, non-native species, and water quality.

The program acknowledges that the Columbia River Basin is an altered ecosystem that, in its altered state, provides many essential services to society, including flood control, navigation, and agricultural irrigation. Given the reliance on these services, the program accepts that given current needs and available technology, that this altered ecosystem cannot currently be restored to its pre-dam condition. Recognizing this constraint, the Council understands that the program may not achieve its obligations, or meet its objectives and vision, by relying only on an approach focused on mitigating, protecting and enhancing ecosystem function. Thus the program also has a complementary strategy that relies on hatcheries to increase fish abundance and harvest opportunities.

The program also includes a set of strategies that provide specific guidance for topics that address particular policy needs. These consist of guidance for anadromous fish mitigation in blocked areas, wildlife mitigation, resident fish mitigation, sturgeon, and lamprey. These strategies present unique policy considerations and thus are developed strategies, but the principles and general measures presented in the ecosystem strategy also apply to this additional set of strategies for specific policy areas.

Lastly, the program contains a strategy that is focused on the adaptive management elements of research, monitoring, data management, evaluation, and reporting.