After decades of decline in salmon and steelhead runs, this year the largest steelhead run in the history of dam counts is crossing Bonneville Dam on its way up the Columbia River. As of August 19, the count of steelhead at Bonneville, the first dam the fish must negotiate on the Columbia, topped 390,000, nearly four times the 1991 to 2000 average.
Steelhead trout, are considered to be a variety of salmon. They are listed by the federal government as threatened or endangered throughout western states.
Some of the conservation measures Washington state has taken may be responsible for the increased steelhead run. In 1999, Washington put in place its Statewide Strategy to Recover Salmon, specifically addressing ecosystem health and conservation measures. Habitat was upgraded. Harvest and hatchery management practices were implemented. Lawmakers in the state opposed all proposals for new hydroelectric projects and their potential for degrading salmon habitat.