Habitat for Idaho Wild Salmon and Steelhead

Salmon and steelhead are travelers and use many different habitats throughout their lives. They move from freshwater mountain streams, to large rivers and the salty ocean. Changes to any one of these habitats can affect whether an ocean-going fish lives or dies.

While Idaho Fish and Game is responsible for managing salmon and steelhead, the agency has little direct authority over anadromous fish habitat in Idaho. It works with federal, state, tribal and private landowners to maintain good quality habitat and to improve areas where poor habitat limits spawning, rearing, fish passage and migration.


Crane install culvert in Meadow Creek in wild salmon and steelhead restoration project in 2018.
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IDFG - Tiege Ulschmid

Restoring Habitat and Connectivity

The upper Salmon River drainage (North Fork Salmon, Lemhi and Pahsimeroi rivers) and the Potlatch River in the Clearwater drainage are priorities for improving spawning and rearing habitat. Multiple projects with private landowners have helped in reconnecting stream segments, creating juvenile rearing habitat, and cooling water temperatures.

Building rotary fish screen at screen shop - 2014
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(c) Glenn Oakley for Idaho Fish and Game

Fish Screens and Water Delivery

When juvenile salmon and steelhead migrate they can accidentally be diverted into irrigation ditches and farm fields. The Fish Screen Program in the Salmon Region maintains over 280 fish screens to keep fish in the rivers and out of irrigation ditches. Water delivery projects developed with private landowners are also turning into a win-win for landowners and fish.

Lower Granite Dam
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Migration and Passage

Improving juvenile and adult survival during their migration through the lower Snake and Columbia river hydro system benefits wild and hatchery fish. Idaho Fish and Game provides its technical expertise to affect fish passage through dams and reservoirs, water temperature fluctuations and flow augmentation.