Pacific salmon and steelhead are much more than essential elements of a healthy Pacific Coast ecosystem. They are cultural icons woven into the fabric of local communities and economies. Salmon runs tie the region’s people to the landscape, but pressures from a changing environment and human activities have compromised the strength of these runs.
The U.S. Congress established the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund (PCSRF) in 2000 to reverse the decline of West Coast salmon and steelhead. This competitive grants program provides funding to states and tribes to protect, conserve, and restore these populations.
NOAA says that, since then, “PCSRF has catalyzed the development of a vibrant community of salmon restoration experts. It has fostered indispensable partnerships among landowners, local governments, and state, tribal, and federal agencies. PCSRF restoration efforts have a collaborative nature and strong scientific foundation. This ensures that funds effectively and efficiently benefit salmon populations and their habitats.”
Since the program’s inception, it has provided more than $1.6 billion to implement more than 15,000 salmon recovery projects. NOAA partners have protected, restored, and created nearly 1.2 million acres of salmon habitat and have opened 11,000 stream miles to salmon and steelhead.
Now, on July 14, 2022, NOAA Fisheries is recommending more than $95 million in funding for 19 new and continuing programs and projects to support West Coast salmon and steelhead populations. They are recommending $61 million in annual appropriation funding and $34 million in Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act funding, awarded through the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund.
Here are the recommended projects:
Alaska Department of Fish and Game ($5,400,000)
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Alaska Sustainable Salmon Fund will support projects necessary to maintain healthy salmon populations as well as protect and restore their habitats. Projects funded by the program includes:
Protecting water quantity and quality
Improving fish passage
Removing invasive species
Restoring instream habitat
Monitoring of salmon populations used for native subsistence fishing
Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association ($1,400,000)
The Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association serves as the administrative agent for the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim Consortia which consists of the Association of Village Council Presidents, Tanana Chiefs Conference, and Kawerak, Inc. The Consortia will rebuild salmon populations and bring relief to resource-dependent people in the region through the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim Tribal Research and Restoration Program. Information from high-priority monitoring and applied research projects will contribute to an improved understanding by management agencies of the complex relationships between salmon and their freshwater, nearshore, and marine environments. It will also improve management and recovery of declined salmon populations to better provide sustainable harvest opportunities for subsistence uses.
Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office ($24,000,000)
The Washington’s Salmon Recovery Funding Board, through the Washington Recreation and Conservation Office, will fund habitat restoration and protection projects that result in measurable benefits. They will address threats and limiting factors of salmon recovery including protecting acres of land from development, restoring rivers, estuaries, and shorelines. They will also make progress towards implementing salmon recovery plans. They anticipate funding up to 120 discrete habitat projects with PCSRF and non-federal share funding. In addition to habitat restoration projects, they will also fund and support Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission hatchery reform efforts. These efforts are a crucial component to salmon recovery and support the exercise of tribal treaty fishing rights. Finally, they will conduct status and trends monitoring, validation monitoring, and statewide project effectiveness monitoring to track progress and fish response at a watershed scale.
The Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission ($5,500,000)
The Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission is a support organization to 20 Puget Sound and Washington coastal treaty tribes. They will administer tribal sub-awards to support activities that:
Address factors limiting the viability of Endangered Species Act-listed salmon and steelhead
Restore and protect habitats
Conduct essential monitoring
Conduct projects that will promote a meaningful expression of tribal treaty fishing rights and advance the recovery and conservation of salmon and steelhead
The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation ($393,688)
The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation will implement studies of salmon reintroduction upstream of Chief Joseph and Grand Coulee Dams in the Upper Columbia Basin. The project will support the overall effort to implement Phase 2 feasibility evaluations of trapping and transporting adult salmon to the blocked area of the Upper Columbia basin. They will also assist in the restoration of native subsistence fishing in an area deprived of salmon for 80 years. This grant also supports U.S. efforts to support healthy Pacific salmon populations through modernization of the Columbia River Treaty regime.
The Cowlitz Indian Tribe ($697,000)
The Cowlitz Indian Tribe will implement Phase 4 of the Cispus-Yellowjacket Restoration project. It will alter physical habitat conditions to form a resilient, forested floodplain. It will also and increase habitat complexity, resulting in a higher quantity and quality of holding, spawning, and rearing habitat for juvenile and adult Chinook salmon, coho salmon, and steelhead in the Lower Columbia basin.
Idaho Governor’s Office of Species Conservation ($7,250,000)
The Idaho Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Program, administered by the Idaho Governor’s Office of Species Conservation, will fund projects that are compatible with the Columbia Basin Collaborative sustainability goals. These include enhancing the availability and quality of salmon habitats, improve management practices, and address major habitat limiting factors. The vision for the Idaho Program is to have delisted Snake River salmon and steelhead stocks that indicate clean and abundant water, reliable and clean energy, a robust economy, and vibrant cultural and spiritual traditions, all of which exist within sustainable ecosystems.
Coeur d’Alene Tribe ($522,329)
The Coeur d’Alene Tribe will gather baseline data to inform the full-scale feasibility of salmon reintroductions upstream of Chief Joseph and Grand Coulee dams by studying the downstream movement and survival of juvenile Chinook salmon. The Coeur d’Alene Tribe is a new PCSRF grant recipient. This grant also supports U.S. efforts to support healthy Pacific salmon populations through modernization of the Columbia River Treaty regime.
Shoshone Bannock Tribes ($40,000)
The Shoshone Bannock Tribes Cultural and Subsistence Fishery Monitoring and Management Program will use funds to participate in fishery forecasting and in-season management of tribal fisheries on Snake River spring/summer Chinook salmon.
Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board ($18,700,000)
The Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board will fund projects that help achieve salmon recovery goals across the state of Oregon by distributing funding to high-priority salmon recovery actions. They will also provide funding to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to support several of their salmon recovery programs that are integral to the Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watersheds and that align with Pacific Coast Salmon Recovery Fund program goals
Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission ($4,075,000)
The Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission is a support organization to the four Columbia River treaty tribes. They will administer sub-awards to its member tribes based on high-priority needs for salmon in tribal-ceded areas. Funded projects include all aspects of salmon recovery including planning and design, implementation, monitoring, and research.
Coquille Indian Tribe ($2,217,515)
The Coquille Indian Tribe will replace the Coaledo Tide Gate on Beaver Slough of the Coquille River. This will result in fish access to 490 acres of tidal wetlands for over-winter rearing coho salmon. This project will provide necessary upgraded infrastructure to provide access and manage water levels allowing for the restoration of this tidally influenced area, increase access to habitat, and enhance the ecological function of this off-channel habitat.
Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians ($681,803)
The Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians will implement Phase 3 of the Rogue River Ranch Side Channel Restoration Project. This project takes a multi-pronged approach to improving coho salmon critical habitat by:
Halting bank erosion to prevent fine sediment delivery to the stream
Restoring native vegetation in the riparian areas
Increasing stream complexity and side channel rearing habitat
Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians ($3,800,000)
The Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians will implement the multi-phased Waite Ranch Tidal Wetland Restoration Project. This phase of the project will contribute to filling more than 8,000 linear feet of agricultural drainage channels, removing 7,000 feet of existing fencing, and restoring 2,000 feet of tidal channels within the Siuslaw River estuary.
Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians
The Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians will implement Phase 3 of the Siletz River River Restoration project constructing large wood structures located on 1.5 miles of the lower Siletz River. This is the Tribe’s first efforts to install large wood structures in a tidal zone. The addition of large wood structures will result in more habitat complexity that increases the availability and quality of habitat for Oregon Coast coho salmon. ($498,715)
California Department of Fish and Wildlife ($16,838,993)
The Fisheries Restoration Grant Program, through the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, will fund salmon and steelhead projects throughout the state of California. The funding will focus on large-scale, process-based habitat restoration projects that create self-sustaining natural ecosystem functions and processes. Objectives include the improvement of spawning success of adult salmon and steelhead, and increased the health and survival of all life stages of salmon and steelhead.
Klamath River Inter-Tribal Fish and Water Commission ($1,400,000)
The Klamath River Inter-Tribal Fish and Water Commission is a support organization to four federally recognized tribes in the Klamath Basin. They will administer sub-awards to its member tribes to conduct habitat restoration activities, monitoring, and research.
Tolowa Dee-ni Nation ($1,963,950)
The Tolowa Dee-ni Nation will remove and replace the Rowdy Creek Fish Hatchery diversion weir to restore fish passage to 13.1 stream miles, the highest priority barrier for removal on the state’s Fish Passage Priorities List. Tolowa Dee-ni Nation is a new PCSRF grant recipient.
The Wiyot Tribe ($150,000)
The Wiyot Tribe will build tribal capacity to conduct fisheries research, monitoring, and future restoration projects along the Eel River. The project outcomes are to reestablish the Tribe’s role as stewards of their ancestral territory by engaging with restoration partners and developing future restoration projects.
Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund
The Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund is a competitive grant program that distributes funds to states and tribes. Eligible projects include:
All phases of habitat restoration and protection activities that contribute to recovering Pacific salmon listed under the Endangered Species Act
Projects that support Pacific salmon and steelhead species important to tribal treaty and trust fishing rights and native subsistence fishing.
Photo of Chinook salmon in the restored (via dam removal) Elwha River is by John McMillan/NOAA Fisheries.