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Department of Fisheries Resources Management

"Protecting and Conserving Our Way of Life"

Over 150 years ago, the Nez Perce Tribe signed a treaty with the United States government. In the Treaty of 1855, the Nez Perce retained total fishing rights on all streams and rivers within the boundaries of the original 13.4 million acre reservation that extended outward to “all usual and accustomed places” including the mainstem Columbia River. Tribal ancestors maintained these rights because the once abundant salmon runs were vital to their way of life and future generations. Since then, salmon and steelhead runs have declined to crisis proportions due largely to hydroelectric power developments, habitat degradation, water quality impacts, and over-harvesting.

Today, maintaining a healthy 13-plus million acre watershed and improving survival of salmon and steelhead under the auspices of the 1855 Treaty, rests with the Tribe’s Department of Fisheries Resources Management program. Our vision is to recover and restore all species and populations of anadromous and resident fish within the traditional lands of the Nez Perce Tribe.

The Fisheries program works throughout the ceded lands and has offices in Powell, Red River, Grangeville, Orofino, McCall, Sweetwater, Lapwai and Joseph, OR. We coordinate and interact with State, Federal and Tribal agencies and committees and private entities in assessing and implementing fish recovery and restoration plans. We monitor fish populations and provide recommendations and overview on Endangered Species Act (ESA) issues. We also provide recommendations for restoration and protection of critical habitat for fish populations and protect fish and wildlife resources through conservation actions.

Nez Perce Tribe Restoration Successes
Snake River Fall ChinookSnake River Fall Chinook

To restore Snake River fall Chinook salmon, the Nez Perce Tribe, in coordination with Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, NOAA Fisheries, and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has implemented hatchery reform to bring back the fish from the brink of extinction.

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Clearwater River Coho RestorationClearwater River Coho Restoration

Coho salmon were officially declared extirpated, or non-existent, in 1986 in the Clearwater and other Snake River subbasins in Idaho. This was unacceptable to the Nez Perce Tribe. Understanding the cultural and ecological significance of coho to the Clearwater River, the Nez Perce Tribe worked hard and has been successful in bringing these fish back.

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Johnson Creek Summer Chinook SupplementationJohnson Creek Summer Chinook Supplementation

Researchers found hatchery-reared salmon that spawned with wild salmon had the same success as salmon left to spawn in the wild, according to a study of the Nez Perce Tribe’s Artificial Propagation Enhancement Project. The study focused on a population of summer natal stream is located in central Idaho, almost 700 miles upstream of the Pacific Ocean.

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Columbia Basin Steelhead Kelt ReconditioningColumbia Basin Steelhead Kelt Reconditioning

Unlike other anadromous fish, steelhead are able to spawn a second time.  Around 2% of the Columbia Basin steelhead population successfully spawns twice. These repeat spawners are called “kelts.” Thousands try to migrate to the ocean after  spawning but die before getting there. Limitations on downstream adult fish passage at the Columbia River hydroelectric dams pose serious barriers to out-migrating kelts. As a result, fewer kelts are found in the upper Columbia than elsewhere in the basin. By increasing their survival, more kelts have the potential to be a valuable contributor to ESA-listed steelhead populations.

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Lookingglass Creek Spring Chinook RestorationLookingglass Creek Spring Chinook Restoration

Emerging from the Blue Mountains in Eastern Oregon, Lookingglass Creek travels through the Umatilla National Forest then through private land before entering the Grande Ronde River, a tributary of the Snake River. With five major tributaries—Lost Creek, Summer Creek, Eagle Creek, Little Lookingglass Creek, and Jarboe Creek—the Lookingglass Creek watershed provides essential spawning habitat for spring Chinook salmon.

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Some Columbia River Fish Too Toxic

Health officials are warning that some Columbia River fish are too toxic to eat often or at all, prompting tribes that depend on the fish to call for stricter environmental standards. ...More

Tribes demand State and Federal responses as fish consumption advisories are issued for the Columbia River

Please review this important CRITFC announcement ...Click Here to View

An Eel Wind Blows

by Eric Barker
Lewiston Tribune July 19th, 2013

Dozens of sets of teeth sit at the bottom of a tank holding more than 100 adult lamprey at the Nez Perce Tribal Hatchery  ...More

Dworshak may be tapped to hatch additional chinook

by Eric Barker
Lewiston Tribune July 19th, 2013

A neighbor's bad luck led to Dworshak National Fish Hatchery raising 2.5 million extra spring chinook last year.  ...More

Short on Chinook? Area fisheries managers are keeping a wary eye on runs of spring Chinook

by Eric Barker
Lewiston Tribune July 12th, 2013

With spring Chinook season long over in most places, fisheries managers in the Clearwater and Salmon river basins are anxiously waiting to see if enough fish will return to hatcheries to meet spawning goals   ...More

How Sequestration Could Affect US Flood-Warning System

by Aaron Kunz and Seth Ogilvie
PBS NewsHour Website, May 14th, 2013
Used with permission of Idaho Public Television/Earthfix

BOISE, Idaho -- The government's automatic budget cuts, known as sequestration, are taking down up to 150 of the nation's stream gauges -- devices that provide life-saving flood warnings and help scientists track drought conditions. The first round   ...More

Translocating Adult Pacific Lamprey within the Columbia River Basin: State of Science

American Fisheries Society
Vol 37, No 8, August 2012

The Pacific lamprey (Entosphenus tridentatus) is in decline in the Columbia River Basin, and translocating adult lamprey to bypass difficult migration corridors has been implemented  ...More

Working for Idaho's Extinct Coho Salmon --December 7th, 2012

An article by Aaron Kunz from the NPR News Website ...Click Here to View Article

Press Release: Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission --October 1st, 2012

New science shows that hatcheries rebuild abundant salmon populations ...More

Influences of Hatchery Supplementation, Spawner Distribution, and Habitat on Genetic Structure of Chinook Salmon in the ...

By A. Matala, S. Narum, W. Young, J. Vogel, The North American Journal of Fisheries Management
The South Fork Salmon River (SFSR) is a major spawning tributary for a single run of spring/summer Chinook salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha in the Snake River basin of Idaho. In terms of historical salmon abundances ...More

Featured Creature - Coho Salmon in Lapwai Creek

By Jannis Jocius, The Columbia Basin Bulletin
Winter/Spring 2012
Coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) is a species of anadromous fish that live in freshwater from 1 to 3 years, migrate to the ocean, and then return to the streams in which they were born to spawn and die. Female Coho salmon produce ...More

Lamprey Homecoming: Culturally significant fish reintroduced into the Wallowa River

By Katy Nesbitt, The Observer
April 12th, 2012
Descendants of former Wallowa County residents returned last week when the Nez Perce Tribe released 40 lamprey into the Wallowa River. On April 5, Elmer Crow of the Nez Perce Tribe along with Jeff Yanke, Enterprise district fish biologist for Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, released lamprey at ...More

Report Shows 2011 Wild-Natural Snake River Fall Chinook Return To Lower Granite 3rd Best Since 1985

The Columbia Basin Bulletin
February 24th, 2012
A total of 8,097 naturally produced Snake River adult fall Chinook salmon in 2011 made their way back from the Pacific and up through eight Columbia and Snake river hydro projects, according preliminary estimates ...More

Nez Perce hatchery strategy pays big dividends for Snake River fall chinook, raises big questions for Northwest

By Scott Learns, The Oregonian
December 10th, 2011
LEWISTON, Idaho -- Into the 1930s, the Nez Perce tribe's foothold in the Snake River basin teemed with nearly half a million fall Chinook. By the 1980s, returns averaged 600 a year, thanks largely to hydro-power dams that eliminated 85 percent of the king salmon's habitat. ...More

Detecting fish goes high tech near Kooskia: Installation of equipment on South Fork gives researchers valued data

By Rhon Lyons
September 1st, 2011
The Nez Perce Tribe and Quantitative Consultants from Boise are installing two state-of-the-art fish detection systems in the South Fork of the Clearwater River near Kooskia. The work is made possible thanks to funds from the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) ...More

PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE: Don’t Let Your Boat List to Starboard Achieving balance in our personal and professional lives

By Jason Vogel, ICAFS President
August 2011
(Extracted from VOLUME 30, ISSUE 2 OF THE GILL RAKER GAZETTE, AUGUST 2011) - People often ask me if I like my job? My answer most days is unequivocally, YES! I have chosen a career that provides me the opportunity to face challenging tasks, utilize my talents, and the cherry on top is that it is rewarding. In my career ...More

Live to Spawn Another Day: Understanding The Fuel Efficiency Of Snake River Steelhead

By Zachary L. Penney
August 2011
Imagine starting a car trip with a full tank of gas, but this is the only fuel you have for the entire trip. You must travel uphill carrying a load of children nearly one quarter the weight of your entire vehicle. Your mission is to deposit these children in their rightful place 500 miles away. Here’s the catch ...More

Staff Attend Secesh Property Association Annual Meeting

This project collects information for monitoring of trends in wild adult salmon escapement and productivity. Information from this project is used for effective population management and for a direct measure of salmon recovery efforts in a wild salmon stream ...More

A Nez Perce Elder Spreads Love for Lamprey

By Amanda Peacher, High Country News
May 6th, 2011
Elmer Crow waits patiently while a crowd of fifth-graders settles on the lawn outside the Morrison Knudson Nature Center in Boise, Idaho. One by one, the students stop squirming as they realize that the Nez Perce elder is watching them, hands folded behind his back. Crow's face is solemn ...More

Dworshak Hatchery Highlights Newsletter for May 2011

The Dworshak National Fish Hatchery (Hatchery) partnered with the Nez Perce Tribe to host the annual Kids Fishing Day at the Tunnel Ponds near Orofino, Idaho. Hatchery volunteers and staff, along with local volunteers from the Clearwater Sheriffs department, the Nez Perce Tribe, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, and the local school district helped bring the event together. ...More

Remote Sensing Technology Use to Monitor He’eyey Returns

By Jay Hesse
February 2011
Maintaining fish spawning in streams throughout the entire Snake River Basin is important for Treaty Right harvest opportunities seven generations from now. Monitoring the number of adult He’eyey (steelhead) returning to ...More

New weir tracks steelhead, Chinook on Lostine River

Written by Katy Nesbitt, The Observer
May 20, 2011
LOSTINE - What was once a Wallowa Band of the Nez Perce summer fishing camp is now the site of a $1 million, state-of-the-art fish trap on the Lostine River. The weir, funded by Bonneville Power Administration and managed by the tribe, provides new insight on the recovery of threatened ...More

Rehabbing steelhead populations? That sounds like a job for ... SUPER FISH

By Eric Barker of the Tribune
June 2nd, 2011
LOWER GRANITE DAM - Swimming more than 400 miles against the current, past eight dams, predators and other untold hazards is an incredible feat. Doing it more than once is super heroic. But that is exactly what some steelhead do. The repeat spawners, known as kelts ...More

Spawning Ground Survey

August 6th & 7th, 2014
McCall, Idaho

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