In 2003, the Methow Restoration Council (MRC) formed as an ad hoc group to improve coordination of our individual efforts to protect and restore native fish species and habitats in the Methow watershed.
Although not a formal organization with decision-making authority, the MRC has grown to serve as the venue for identifying, prioritizing, and coordinating fish habitat protection and restoration activities in the watershed. Over the years, the MRC has expanded its role to include coordination and communication with other regional groups working to restore native fish throughout the Upper Columbia region.
Historically, the Methow watershed supported abundant anadromous (ocean-going) fish populations, including spring Chinook and coho salmon, steelhead, and Pacific lamprey.
Native resident fish, including trout, suckers, sculpin, and minnows were also important members of the local fish community. Over the last 100 years, as settlement increased and spread in the Columbia River basin, many species of fish in the Methow watershed experienced significant and noticeable population declines. These species, especially the anadromous fish, have yet to recover.
What are we doing?
The MRC participants share a common goal to ensure that preservation and restoration actions are scientifically sound, effectively monitored, and will produce measurable benefits that support species recovery.
We believe that a collaborative effort will result in better projects, better results, and wiser use of limited preservation and restoration dollars.
Since 2003, MRC participants have coordinated on the implementation of well over 100 projects:
- protecting or restoring riparian habitat on over 2400 acres along 33 miles of rivers and streams,
- restoring full fish passage in Poorman Creek, Beaver Creek, and the Chewuch River, and
- implementing irrigation efficiency projects, which have more than doubled late season flow available for fish in the Chewuch River without reducing the number of acres irrigated.
Where are we headed?
Participants at MRC work together to develop more coordinated projects that address habitat problems across larger sections of each river rather than at a specific work site.
This concept, referred to as “reach-based restoration,” requires closer coordination both within the Methow River basin and regionally. Working with the Upper Columbia Salmon Recovery Board, the MRC and other regional groups are making progress to improve the numbers of threatened steelhead returning to the Methow, while the numbers of endangered spring Chinook are no longer declining.
Benefits of this coordinated approach include:
- more fish in our rivers,
- more efficient irrigation techniques and improved irrigation diversions for our local farmers and ranchers, and
- more green spaces along our rivers for wildlife habitat and public access.