Reintroduction of Anadromous Fish Above Chief Joseph and Grand Coulee

The Anadromous Fish Mitigation in Blocked Areas Strategy in the Council’s 2014 Fish and Wildlife Program, calls for a science-based, phased approach to investigate reintroduction of anadromous fish in the blocked U.S. waters of the Upper Columbia River. Phase I of this investigation includes: 

  • Evaluate information from passage studies at other blockages and from previous assessments of passage at Grand Coulee and Chief Joseph dams
  • Investigate habitat availability, suitability and salmon survival potential in habitats above Grand Coulee. This might include selective releases of salmon and steelhead. Investigate the scientific feasibility and possible cost of upstream and downstream passage options for salmon and steelhead. Before funding new investigations, provide the Council with a report for consideration of subsequent work to advance the fish passage planning process.
  • As part of Phase 1, the Council will engage in discussions with tribal, state, and federal agencies and others regarding the purpose, scope and progress of reintroduction efforts above Chief Joseph and Grand Coulee dams.

Additionally, the Council identified investigation of blocked area mitigation as one of the program’s emerging priorities: “Investigate blocked area mitigation options through reintroduction, passage and habitat improvement, and implement if warranted.”

Since the adoption of the Council’s 2014 Program, the Council and the region have begun important discussions and preliminary planning for how to implement this program priority while engaging all interested parties.

In 2016, Council staff completed a review of fish passage technologies for high-head dams. Currently, the Spokane Tribe is conducting a habitat assessment for tributaries in the blocked US waters above Grand Coulee. Results of their study are anticipated for the end of 2017. The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, the Upper Columbia United Tribes, and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife are also engaged in the work with the Spokane Tribe and/or are working on separate assessments and modeling to determine viability of reintroduction of anadromous fish above Chief Joseph and Grand Coulee. The Council’s Program calls for the Council, in collaboration with other relevant entities, to decide whether and how to proceed from Phase I to Phase II based on the results of work completed for Phase I.