The mission of the Resident Fish Division is to manage resident fish, habitat and fisheries within the Nez Perce Reservation and the 1855 Treaty area; restore native resident fish populations; enhance resident fishery opportunities in support of traditional Nez Perce resident fishing rights, and; conduct, coordinate and promote efforts to restore Pacific lamprey (eels) in the Snake River Basin.
Many factors have adversely impacted resident fish within the traditional lands of the Nez Perce Tribe, including: hybridization among native and introduced species; predation and competition from introduced species; habitat degradation; reduction and loss of the anadromous fish marine derived nutrients important to ecosystem functions and productivity; reduction and loss of prey species; creation of slack water pools behind dams; passage problems and blockages at large hydro-electric dams, and; alterations of the natural hydrologic regime. These and other impacts have collectively diminished available resident fishery resources and associated traditional harvest opportunities.
In the face of such pervasive challenges to restoring and sustaining viable fisheries, the Resident Fish Division applies an ecosystem approach to achieve normative conditions that support multiple species. This approach strives to restore and maintain native species diversity, restore and maintain ecosystem functions and processes, and mimic natural hydrologic conditions within the context of highly regulated systems
Projects conducted by the Resident Fish Division reflect this ecosystem approach. For example, the Division has conducted a genetic inventory of westslope cutthroat trout in the North Fork Clearwater subbasin to help characterize the degree and extent of hybridization with non-native rainbow trout. Based on results of this study, we have discouraged the stocking of non-native trout in the highly accessible North Fork Clearwater behind Dam and have promoted stocking local origin westslope cutthroat trout. Intensive trout fisheries designed to compensate, in part, for lost fishing opportunities are managed in small, confined waters to minimize interactions with the native fishes. The Division also participates in a wide assortment of forums across the region pertaining to the Federal Columbia River Power System, primarily to address operations and configurations affecting passage and survival conditions for salmon, steelhead and Pacific lamprey. The adult Pacific lamprey translocation initiative is an ongoing on-the-ground strategy to move adult lamprey past the mainstem dams and into Snake River tributaries. This is an urgent action intended to prevent the disappearance of this species, and associated ecosystem and cultural values, in Nez Perce Country.