Since time immemorial, the rivers of the Columbia Basin have been, and continue to be, the life blood of the Columbia Basin tribes. Columbia Basin tribes view ecosystem-based function of the Columbia Basin watershed as its ability to provide, protect and nurture cultural resources, traditions, values and landscapes throughout its length and breadth. Clean and abundant water that is sufficient to sustain healthy populations of fish, wildlife, and plants is vital to holistic ecosystem-based function and life itself. A restored, resilient and healthy watershed will include ecosystem-based function such as
- Increased spring and summer flows resulting in a more natural hydrograph
- Higher and more stable headwater reservoir levels
- Restoring and maintaining fish passage to historical habitats
- Higher river flows during dry years
- Lower late summer water temperature
- Reconnected floodplains throughout the river including a reconnected lower river estuary ecosystem as well as reduced salt water intrusion during summer and fall
- Columbia River plume and near shore ocean enhanced through higher spring and summer flows and lessened duration of hypoxia
- An adaptive and flexible suite of river operations responsive to a great variety of changing environmental conditions, such as climate change
Improved ecosystem-based function in the Columbia Basin Watershed is expected to result in at least
- Increased recognition, protection and preservation of tribal First Foods and cultural/sacred sites and activities; First Foods include water, salmon, other fish, wildlife, berries, roots, and other native medicinal plants
- An estuary with an enhanced food web and increased juvenile fish survival
- Increases in juvenile and adult salmon survival
- Decreased mainstem travel time for migrating juvenile salmon
- Increased resident fish productivity that provides stable, resilient populations
- Increased wildlife productivity that provides stable, resilient populations
- Salmon and other juvenile and adult fish passage to historical habitats in the Upper Columbia and Snake River basins, and into other currently blocked parts of the Columbia River Basin
—This definition of the Ecosystem-based Function was adopted by the Coalition of Columbia Basin Tribes June 2013
Ecosystem-based management seeks to:
- Restore and preserve tribal natural and cultural resources.
- Restore spring freshets which helps to restore the estuary and move fish.
- Minimize draw downs at upper reservoirs.
- Restore fish passage to all historic locations.
- Download the full booklet “Ecosystem-Based Function Integration Into the Columbia River Treaty: Columbia Basin Tribe’s Concept” here.
- Download just the Ecosystem Summary Booklet here.