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Bateman Island Causeway Removal

Mar 9, 2023

‘Help the Columbia River Salmon’

The Bateman Island causeway connects the island to the shore, but blocks natural river flow, affecting salmon, steelhead, lamprey, and other wildlife. Photo courtesy Open Rivers Fund.

The Bateman Island causeway is an artificial, non-permitted earthen pathway constructed to connect Bateman Island to the City of Richland. For over 80 years, the causeway has created a barrier that reduced salmon survival. It blocks natural river flows at the mouth of the Yakima Delta. It also creates a stagnant area of warm water that is prime habitat for non-native fish including bass and other predatory species that prey on juvenile salmon and steelhead in the spring. In summer, adult salmon and steelhead migrating to the Yakima River are forced to swim around the island and through the warm zone, which stresses them as they require cold water to thrive.

Tribes, Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have all reported that if no action is is taken, the causeway will continue to make matters worse not only for the Yakima River delta, but for the whole Yakima River Basin’s migratory fish populations. Given these findings, the Corps is considering removing the causeway. (Click here to read the article “Bateman Island causeway removal part of draft plan to restore Yakima River Delta in Tri-Cities”.)

‘What are your thoughts?’

The public has been invited to submit comments to WDFW and the Corps by April 10, 2023 to assist in developing their draft plan. There are outspoken voices on both sides of this issue. We encourage you to submit a comment to ensure they hear tribal thoughts and opinions on this matter. Comments are accepted through an online form (click here to go to the comment submission page). Make sure to select Yakima River Delta Restoration in the subject line. These comments will be used to make a recommendation on a ‘tentatively selected plan.’ Your voice can make an impact.


If you would like some comment ideas, CRITFC staff has prepared an example response below to use or to modify for your own personal comments.

Dear Corps of Engineers,

I support the removal of the Bateman Island causeway. It impacts the health of the river and the native species that live there. I am especially concerned about the causeway’s effects on treaty-reserved resources, especially salmon, steelhead, and lamprey. The unnatural river conditions created by the causeway encourage non-native predator fish, which prey on juvenile salmon, steelhead, and lamprey migrating to the ocean. And in summer, adult salmon, steelhead, and lamprey migrating to the Yakima River are forced to swim around the island and through the warm zone, which stresses them as they require cold water to thrive. These impacts affect tribal cultural and religious resources that are important to me.

By removing the causeway, the natural processes will be freed to support a healthy river, which in turns supports a health ecosystem that benefits all wildlife and the people who live here.

Thank you for consideration of my comments.