Bureau of Reclamation

Updated summary 2019

Salmon and Steelhead habitat improvement work in the Methow Basin is possible through formal partnerships between Federal agencies and project sponsors interested in aquatic habitat rehabilitation. 

In the Methow Watershed the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) provides technical assistance to Methow Salmon Recovery Foundation, Columbia Cascade Fish Enhancement Group, Trout Unlimited and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to identify, construct, and monitor habitat improvement projects intended to protect and improve the survival of Endangered Upper Columbia River spring Chinook and Threatened steelhead. Project sponsors are responsible for construction management, funding and permitting, and related activities. Reclamation provides funding to sponsors to carry out these tasks and provides technical expertise and project designs using scientists and professional engineers qualified to do this work.


The Federal Columbia River Power System

The Federal Columbia River Power System (FCRPS) is a key player in the quest to find balance for fish survival in Pacific Northwest. The 31 federal dams in the system have brought prosperity to the region by generating nearly 40 percent of the region’s hydropower while providing flood control, irrigation, navigation, and recreation benefits.

The FCRPS is operated to support multiple species of listed and unlisted fish. To protect these fish, a Biological Opinion (BiOP) is used by federal natural resource agencies to direct operational guidance. Under these BiOps and other laws and authorities, federal agencies carry out a wide range of actions to help listed fish at all stages of their lifecycle.

Presently, the FCRPS BiOP identifies actions for improving habitat and river conditions, managing hatcheries and predators, and structural and water management actions to boost fish survival through dams. There is also extensive monitoring of fish response to these actions.

The Methow Basin is one of a dozen sub-basin sites whose restoration activities were triggered by the 1999 listing of spring Chinook and steelhead. Fish recovery funding comes from the Federal government and a mix of state and regional sources. Most of the funds are spread throughout the local economy to hire staff, employ contractors and purchase materials and supplies.

Information on the overall salmon recovery effort in the Columbia Basin can be found at: https://www.salmonrecovery.gov/Habitat.aspx

Link to Reclamation’s Tributary Habitat Program https://www.usbr.gov/pn/fcrps/habitat/index.html Link to Reclamation’s 2016 and 2017 annual report: https://www.usbr.gov/pn/fcrps/habitat/projects/annualreports/20162017annreport.pdf