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Anadromous Salmonid Recovery in the Umatilla River Basin, Oregon: A Case Study

Aug 27, 2018


The Umatilla River Basin Fisheries Restoration Plan was initiated in the early 1980s to mitigate salmonid losses caused by hydroelectric development and habitat degradation. The objectives are to enhance the abundance of endemic steelhead and reintroduce extirpated Chinook and Coho salmon. The project prompted collaborative effort among federal, state, and tribal agencies, and local water users. It has incorporated habitat restoration, flow enhancement, fish passage improvements, and population supplementation through artificial production. Water exchanges have successfully increased minimum flows during spring and fall migration. While flows remain depressed compared to historic conditions, there is potential for improved habitat, passage, and homing. The mean adult-to-adult return rate of hatchery-reared steelhead exceeded replacement and that of the naturally-spawning population. Although the smolt-to-adult survival rates of hatchery-reared fish fluctuate, salmonid escapement has increased in recent years, permitting steelhead and spring chinook harvest. Enumeration of potential spawners and observed redds reveals an increase in natural production of all supplemented species. Comparison of hatchery-reared and naturally-spawning steelhead populations revealed differences in life history characteristics (in age composition and sex ratios) though run timing and genetic stock compositions of the two components of the populations have not differed. Sustained monitoring is needed to determine benefits of integrating habitat restoration and artificial production in restoring salmonid populations.



Phillips, J.L.,  J. Ory and A. Talbot. 2000. Anadromous salmonid recovery in the Umatilla River Basin, Oregon: a case study. Journal of the American Water Resources Association 36(6):1287-1308. Online at



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Media Type

Journal Article