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Cramer Fish Sciences: Lower Columbia Fish Recovery Board   Innovative Scientific Solutions for Fisheries and Environmental Challenges  
Cramer Fish Sciences
"I have always enjoyed working with Steve Cramer. He is extremely bright and has a high level of energy. Steve is particularly adept at statistical analysis and computer modeling. He is a very good writer and always gets his reports out on time."
Jim Martin
Chief of Fisheries [Retired]
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife



Lower Columbia Fish Recovery Board

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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 restoration opportunities.

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.

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