The Situation: Salmon and steelhead populations in the
lower Columbia River basin have been declining. People throughout the Northwest
and entities including regional hydropower companies,
fish and wildlife agencies, state and local governments, as well as commercial
and recreational anglers all have a stake in the situation.
The Challenge: Analyze the problem and develop a comprehensive
plan that defines what needs to be done to recover fish populations.
The Lower Columbia River Recovery Board relied on Cramer Fish Sciences
for scientific leadership in developing, coordinating, and drafting a comprehensive
recovery plan for salmon and steelhead populations in the Lower Columbia
River Basin. The plan would satisfy several regional planning initiatives, including:
- Recovery planning for ESA-listed salmon and steelhead;
- Northwest Power and Conservation Council's Fish and Wildlife program planning;
- Washington State salmon recovery efforts
Cramer Fish Sciences provided a sound scientific foundation for the difficult
social, economic, and political considerations involved in developing an
effective Recovery team.
We also assisted in the large-scale review process by federal, state,
and local agencies and all related stakeholder groups. The project culminated with
the first published and federally approved salmon recovery plan on the West coast.
How It Was Done
The Cramer Fish Sciences team, led by fisheries scientist Ray Beamesderfer,
used a broad suite of analytical tools and techniques to study over 70 salmonid populations
within the study area. Current viability levels were assessed to determine how numerous
factors impacted those populations, including hydropower dams, commercial and sport
fishing, hatchery operations, and freshwater habitat.The tools and techniques used included population models,
Eco-system Diagnosis & Treatment (EDT), and GIS-based watershed process modeling (IWA - Integrated
Watershed Analysis). Results
of the analytical assessments were combined with regional recovery objectives to
identify and prioritize recovery measures and actions necessary to restore salmon to
healthy, harvestable levels. The plan identifies more than 80 implementing partners and
650 distinct program and project actions affecting recovery.
Further, GIS analysis was used to develop projected
trends in habitat conditions based on current land-use, zoning, and topography.
IWA and EDT modeling were used together to identify habitation
CFS combined all of these elements in a broad system that helped model how fish would
respond to recommended actions in the Recovery Plan. This helped investigators and
managers tremendously in their effort to determine which action — or combination
of actions — would result in the restoration of salmon productivity. Assessment
of impacts and selection of recovery measures required the application of scientific
principles while incorporating social, economic, and regulatory constraints.