If society accepts the status quo of salmon recovery and Federal Columbia River Power System operation in the Pacific Northwest, many populations of salmon will not survive into the 22nd century in sustainable, harvestable levels. Status quo management of the Columbia River–similar to past decades–gives priority to hydropower, irrigation, and navigation interests. It oversees earnest and well-funded salmon recovery efforts that amount to meager success. Its management structure is disjointed, juxtaposed with the interconnectedness of the Columbia River Basin’s ecology. Looking decades into the future, a timely combination of increased human population in the Pacific Northwest, a warmer climate, unfavorable ocean conditions, and an unaltered hydropower system will push salmon populations to minimal abundance, perhaps even to extinction. Yet it is entirely possible to design policies that would increase system resilience in the Columbia, and therefore decrease the likelihood of the grim fate mentioned above. These policies and management decisions must consider human resilience and ecological resilience alike, and should have a shared definition of success, with legal, regulatory, ecological, social, cultural, and economic dimensions.