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Council Develops Interactive Mapping Tool To Track Columbia River Basin Salmon/Steelhead Abundance
Posted on Tuesday, December 29, 2015 (PST)

An interactive mapping tool that tracks 295 populations and combinations of populations of natural origin salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River basin, along with each population’s abundance objective, is in development by the Northwest Power and Conservation Council Fish and Wildlife staff.


Nearing completion of the tool and seeking feedback about its usefulness, Nancy Leonard of the Council staff demonstrated how it works and how it can be useful for tracking the region’s progress toward meeting biological objectives for salmon and steelhead at the Council’s December 15, 2015 monthly meeting in Portland.


“The mapping tool organizes existing population objectives by subbasin following regional input and the Fish and Wildlife Committee guidance,” Leonard said in a Dec. 8 Council memorandum.


“Displaying existing objectives in this manner facilitates understanding how many populations have more than one objective, whether these objectives make sense for a population, or whether there is a need to address inconsistencies among these values.”


Seeing the information in this computerized tool also enables biologists and policymakers to see gaps in abundance objectives, she added in the memorandum.


Council staff is partnering in the development of this interactive tool with the NOAA Fisheries staff as a part of the NOAA-led Columbia River Partnership process.


The instructions on the tool’s use can be found at the Council’s website at The tool itself can be found at


Each population has three tiers of abundance objectives. The first tier is the minimum abundance threshold, which is the threshold identified in a listing under the federal Endangered Species Act for recovery. The second tier shows an abundance threshold that includes an acceptable escapement for harvest and the third tier is “turning the clock back, reconnecting habitat, a look at what we used to have in pre-western development,” Leonard said at the Council meeting.


The interactive mapping tool addresses the 2014 Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program task for refining program goals and quantitative objectives (


The Program states that the “Council will work with state and federal agencies and tribes in the region to collect, organize, review, and report on these quantitative objectives by the end of 2015. This effort should include a review of agency and tribal management plans, draft and final federal recovery plans, subbasin plans and other relevant documents and reports. The final report will include, but not be limited to, an inventory of non-ESA listed populations of salmon and steelhead that lack federal recovery objectives.”


The tool includes 34 different abundance variable names, specific quantitative objectives and natural origin salmon and steelhead objectives, among other information.


Leonard said the tool is a work in progress and that “hopefully with the help of the partnership (referring to NOAA’s Columbia River Partnership) we will settle on all the right numbers.”


Also see:


-- CBB, Oct. 30, 2015, “NOAA Fisheries Forms ‘Columbia Basin Partnership’ To Provide Collaborative Forum On Salmon/Steelhead”


-- CBB, Dec. 14, 2012, “NOAA Launches ‘Situation Assessment’ Of Columbia River Basin Salmon, Steelhead Recovery”


-- CBB, Dec. 20, 2013, “Salmon Recovery Assessment: Who Leads The Long-Term Way? A Re-Defined NW Power/Conservation Council?”


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