• Restoring streams and streamside habitat


    Opening side channel on tributary in Eastern Oregon

      Channel complexity:  Salmon, steelhead, bull trout and Pacific lamprey evolved in streams with multiple channels that meandered and flooded seasonally. These processes created complex habitats that provided important rearing areas for juvenile fish and cool-water refuges during the heat of summer. Human development has changed the nature of most of the Columbia River Basin’s streams and rivers, resulting in a loss of important habitat used by native fish species.    



    Federal Caucus agencies provide funding, technical assistance and on-the-ground actions for channel complexity by reconnecting side channels and, where feasible, increasing floodplain function to improve instream habitat.


    Fencing keeps cattle out of salmon habitat in Idaho's Starley BasinProtecting and restoring riparian areas:  Riparian habitat—streamside vegetation—is critical to the survival of young native fish species. Native trees and plants lower water temperatures, contribute insects that serve as a food source for juvenile fish, and provide shade that protects them from predators and allows for cooler water temperatures in the summer.

    Because these actions can help moderate stream temperatures, they may help address the longer-term effects of climate change that are expected to cause water temperatures to increase seasonally throughout the Columbia River basin.


    Riparian habitat can be protected through placement of conservation easements that restrict development in streamside corridors and land purchases. Existing land parcels can then be restored through such techniques as planting riparian or natural vegetation and using rocks or straw to control erosion.  This re-establishes a high quality riparian corridor that benefits native fish and wildlife.  



    Irrigation screen installed on a ranch in the Stanley BasinReducing fish entrainment at irrigation diversions:  Installing or retrofitting/ replacing existing screens at water diversions prevents fish from becoming trapped in irrigation ditches or “entrained” (caught) on screens. Designed according to state and federal standards, screens keep the fish in the streams and out of irrigated fields, thus providing immediate improvements in juvenile fish survival for that population.

    Consolidating irrigation diversions creates fewer sites where water for irrigation is diverted on a stream. Replacing instream diversions with irrigation diversions from groundwater wells also eliminates the need for a fish screen.


  • Watch a video

    Increasing channel complexity on a tributary of the Wallowa River of Eastern Oregon