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Columbia River

Columbia River Cold Water Refuges

Supporting Healthy Salmon and Steelhead Migration

About Cold Water Refuges

Cold water refuges are areas that are colder than the main river temperature. Salmon use cold water refuges to successfully migrate up the Columbia River to their spawning grounds. Protecting and restoring these cold water refuges is important for the survival of migrating salmon and the recovery of future salmon populations.

The project is connected to climate change. As rivers warm under climate change, cold water refuges will become even more essential to the survival of cold water fisheries, such as salmon and steelhead.

The Cold Water Refuges Project extends from the mouth of the Columbia River to its confluence with the Snake River (the Washington-Oregon border, at River Mile 310).

Project Goals

  • Identify the cold water refuges currently available for use by migrating salmon.
  • Assess the sufficiency of the refuges for current and future populations.
  • Identify strategies to restore, enhance, and protect high quality refuges for the future.


The EPA is leading the project and working with Oregon, Washington, NOAA Fisheries, tribes, and other partners.


  • John Palmer (, Project Lead, 206-553-6521.
  • Debra Sherbina (, Community Involvement Coordinator, 206-553-0247.

Related Information


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