Salmon may soon return to the Spokane and Columbia Rivers

Chinook Salmon

SPOKANE, Wash. — Salmon may soon be reintroduced to the Spokane and Columbia Rivers.

The Upper Columbia United Tribes (UCUT) secured over $3 million in funding to bring salmon back to the Inland Northwest. The money will go to Colville, Spokane and Coeur d’Alene member tribes to restore salmon, revitalize tribal culture and strengthen the region’s economy.

Salmon have been blocked from the upper Columbia for nearly 110 years due to the development of five hydropower dams without fish passage facilities. Since 2015, the tribes in the upper Columbia have been leading an effort to reintroduce anadromous fish to areas upstream of Chief Joseph, Grand Coulee, and Spokane River dams.

“We applaud the state of Washington for accepting their role in this most righteous of endeavors,” said Hemene James, Chairman of the Upper Columbia United Tribes. “We as the original inhabitants of this great country of ours look forward to the joint efforts going forward with not only Washington but all those that want to experience all that this beautiful land of ours can be!”

This salmon reintroduction has been years in the making, and years of research have gone into making the return of salmon possible.

UCUT developed a Phase 2 Implementation Plan, which will focus on fisheries research, developing local rearing facilities, and expanding fish transport capacity. The funds will enable the tribes to purchase needed research and transport equipment that will be used throughout the Phase 2 implementation. 

“The Upper Columbia Tribes and our partners are committed to leading this effort with sound science,” said Jarred-Michael Erickson, Vice Chair, Upper Columbia United Tribes. “Our approach to Phase 2 studies will ensure that we obtain the scientific information necessary for future decisions about restoring salmon populations in the Upper Columbia.”

The $3 million in funding comes from the Washington State supplemental budget, and will be provided through the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

You can learn more about salmon reintroduction efforts in the upper Columbia here.

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