Reintroductions (Tech Recommend 5)

Problem Statement

Salmon populations have been extirpated from many areas of the Columbia River Basin where productive spawning and rearing habitat remains (NPPC 1986; Nehlsen et al. 1991; CRITFC 1992). This has occurred for a number of reasons, including degraded tributary habitat, poor mainstem passage survival, and over harvest.

The present system of hatcheries was intended to replace salmon production lost when dams blocked formerly productive portions of the basin or flooded existing spawning areas. Although these areas were located in the upper basin, where tribal usual and accustomed fishing places exist, the majority of the mitigation hatcheries were located in the lower basin. Thus, the bulk of the fish produced by the mitigation hatcheries are not returned to the areas where the fish losses occurred and where tribal fisheries are located. Even where the hatcheries are located in the areas of loss, e.g., the Lower Snake River Compensation Program, mitigation was not always in-place, in-kind. Moreover, evaluation of these programs has been measured by the weight of smolts produced rather than the number of adults returned. As a result of these problems, tribal fishery needs are not being met, naturally reproducing stocks are in danger of being extirpated, resources have been optimized to produce smolt rather than adults, and the tribes’ management authority over a significant portion of their historic fisheries has been diminished.


Supplementation can be used to reintroduce salmon to many areas from which they have been extirpated, given that suitable spawning and rearing habitat is available in the native range, and a suitable donor stock is available.

Recommended Actions/Tests


Implement reintroduction projects that have met the screening criteria of Cuenco, et al. (1993) and RASP (1992b). Table 5B.4 identifies facilities needed for broodstock and acclimation/final rearing for supplementation (hypothesis/recommendation 4) and reintroduction actions called for in Volume II, the 1995 Subbasin Plans. High priority reintroductions include:

  • Clearwater Subbasin (Meadow Creek) summer chinook
  • Clearwater Subbasin (North Lapwai Valley, Fenn Pond) fall chinook
  • Yakima Subbasin (Wapato Canal, Roza Wasteway, Upper Yakima, Naches) coho
  • Walla Walla Subbasin spring chinook
  • Grande Ronde Subbasin coho and sockeye

Identify other high priority reintroduction indicated in CRITFC (1992), and the Subbasin Plans in Volume II. Using the Cuenco et al. (1993) process, develop and implement reintroduction plans. Coordinate reintroduction projects with habitat protection and restoration efforts.


Continue the successful short-term programs and modify less successful short-term programs consistent with supplementation protocols.

Expected Results

Total salmon production in the Columbia River Basin will increase through utilization of presently unused freshwater areas. The reintroduced populations may provide a buffer against extirpation and additional reservoirs of genetic resources.

Institutional/Decision Structure

Reintroduction projects will be coordinated through the U.S. v Oregon Production Advisory Committee according to the guidelines provided by Cuenco et al. (1993). Tribes and states will implement supplementation projects using the resources of the Mitchell Act, Lower Snake River Compensation Program, Northeast Oregon Production Project, Yakima Production Project, Nez Perce Tribal Hatchery, and other resources that may become available.


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