Coho salmon in Eagle Creek

Coho salmon in Eagle Creek, a tributary of the Columbia River, during the fall of 2009.

Four states that share the Columbia River Basin have agreed to work together to rebuild the river’s salmon and steelhead stocks.

Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana announced Friday they have committed to a unified public process to find solutions to key issues for recovering the imperiled fish.

The process will include federal agencies, stakeholders and the region’s tribes — including recognition of their treaty and cultural rights and their co-management of natural resources.

Governors from each state received letters from regional stakeholders urging them to “identify the actions and investments needed to recover harvestable salmon and steelhead populations, conserve other fish and wildlife, honor and protect tribal needs and way of life, and strengthen the electricity and agricultural services that communities rely on.”

In a letter announcing the joint partnership, the four governors said they will work together and commit to “achieve the Partnership’s abundance goals to uphold treaty rights, support state fishery and fishery-related objectives and river-dependent economies.”

The states have already participated in the first phase of the Columbia Basin Partnership Task Force — that was established by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in 2017, to set goals for two dozen stocks of salmon and steelhead in the Columbia Basin.

The next phase will now define social, cultural, economic and environmental factors to be considered when deciding how to achieve those goals.

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