Upper Columbia Tribes Receive Over $3 Million from Washington State for Salmon Reintroduction

The Upper Columbia United Tribes secured over $3 million in funding in the Washington State supplemental budget for salmon reintroduction in the upper Columbia.

The funds will go to three member tribes, Colville, Spokane, and Coeur d’Alene, to invest in efforts to restore salmon, revitalize tribal culture, and strengthen the region’s economy through salmon reintroduction activities in the Spokane and Columbia rivers and their tributaries. The majority of these funds will be provided through the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, according to the supplemental budget that was signed by Governor Inslee on March 31, 2022.

Salmon have been blocked from their historic habitat in the upper Columbia for up to 110 years from the development of five hydropower dams without fish passage facilities in the upper Columbia Basin. Since 2015, the tribes in the upper Columbia have been leading an effort, with state and federal partners, to develop a phased approach to reintroduce anadromous fish to areas upstream of Chief Joseph, Grand Coulee, and Spokane River dams.

After completing initial feasibility studies in 2019 as part of the Upper Columbia United Tribes’ phase 1 activities, they and member tribes developed the phase 2 Implementation plan to test the feasibility of restoring salmon to the upper Columbia River Basin.

The first several years of the 20-year implementation plan focuses on fisheries research, developing local rearing facilities, and expanding fish transport capacity to support current and future reintroduction activities. The funds provided by the state of Washington will enable the tribes to purchase needed research and transport equipment that will be used throughout the lifetime of phase 2 implementation.

Last month, the UCUT organization and its member tribes, with the help and support of the U.S. Geological Survey and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, kicked off the second phase of reintroduction with the implementation of a pilot study that involves releasing thousands of juvenile Chinook salmon throughout the upper Columbia blocked area so tribal scientists can learn how these fish move through the Columbia River’s dam system during their migration to the ocean.

Learn more about salmon reintroduction efforts in the upper Columbia, including the UCUT’s phase 1 report at ucut.org/fish/restoring-salmon-upper-columbia-river-basin/