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Restoring the River: A Plan for the Chinook Watershed

Restoring the River cover

From the Chair of the Board of Sea Resources
Sea Resources has operated a hatchery on the lower Chinook since 1967 as a nonprofit, educational organization. We formed on the site of the oldest hatchery in the state in order to teach young people about fishing and salmon. Each year, students from Ilwaco High School spend part of their day at the hatchery, learning about aquaculture and natural resources.

In 1996, Sea Resources and Ecotrust, hired biologist Dr. T.C. (Charley) Dewberry to write a restoration plan for the river. This is his plan, which is really more a framework for us to use. It gives us guidelines to study the river over the coming decades, so that we might help it recover the vitality it once had.

Since the late 1800s, humans have managed salmon in the Columbia basin, and their numbers have only declined. At Sea Resources, we can't hope to fix what ails the Columbia River. But we can take small steps to help the Chinook, steps that may be applicable elsewhere.

Our work will entail quite a bit of experimenting in the drainage and at the hatchery. Students will be involved every step of the way. Some of our efforts will work. Some won't. The point is, we can't continue business as usual and hope to return to the incredible days of salmon fishing that we had in the early part of the century.

We hope you'll help us in our effort to restore the Chinook.
—Raymond Millner, Sea Resources, Sept, 1997.


Atlas of Pacific Salmon cover
Sea Resources hatchery

This plan is designed to provide Sea Resources with both the conceptual framework and the tools to restore salmon runs in the Chinook River, a small (12 square mile) watershed in Washington, near the mouth of the Columbia River.

Restoration is a long-term process. The working hypothesis of this plan is that human activities have significantly degraded the productive capacity of the Chinook watershed for over 150 years, and that significant restoration will take more than a century. The plan assumes that no short-term technological fixes will reverse the degradation. Rather, critical areas of the watershed must be allowed to recover naturally, thereby providing high quality salmon habitat.

Recovery of the chinook, chum and coho salmon populations in the Chinook basin will take a whole-basin approach. In recent decades, we have come to understand that streams are intimately linked to their drainage basins. A successful restoration plan begins from this premise. In addition, restoration efforts must address the sources of the degradation within the basin, many of which are high on the ridges and far from the stream itself.

No restoration plan can guarantee that Pacific salmon populations will rebound significantly in the Chinook basin. Salmon recovery in the Chinook is intimately linked with the recovery of the lower Columbia salmon stocks as a whole, and with fishing regulations and enforcement in the North Pacific. Community-based restoration efforts like those envisioned in this plan will put pressure on public agencies to change regulations. However, in the absence of whole-basin restoration, the Pacific salmon populations in the Chinook are doomed to either low numbers or extinction. Ultimately the survival of the lower Columbia salmon stocks is dependent on restoration of watersheds throughout the basin. The Chinook is ideally situated to provide a testing ground for developing a successful restoration strategy that can be applied in watersheds throughout the Columbia Basin and beyond.

Thomas C. Dewberry worked for Ecotrust analyzing, overseeing, and helping to implement various landscape and habitat restoration projects.

Restoring the River: A Plan for the Chinook Watershed
51 pages
© 1997 Ecotrust and Sea Resources


A Historical Look at Salmon

Six Steps to Restoration


Sea Resources
PO Box 187
Chinook, WA 98614
tel 360.777.8229
fax 360.777.8254


Also by Charley Dewberry

Restoring Knowles Creek


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