Many of the ecological processes in the riparian forests and streams across the Pacific Northwest have become impaired through production forestry practices common prior to the 1990s. Some of these practices included forest harvest without stream buffers, removal of instream wood, road construction and use, and harvesting large proportions of watersheds. Passive ecological restoration (the use of natural processes of succession and disturbance to alleviate anthropogenic impacts over time) is a common practice used in the management of riparian forests previously subjected to production forestry. Eighteen years after the implementation of passive restoration of riparian forests, we used four common stream indicators (stream temperature, canopy closure, instream wood, and salmonid densities) to assess the effects of restoration in small fishbearing streams. Summer stream temperatures have decreased below unmanaged reference levels, whereas riparian forest canopy closure has increased beyond that in reference watersheds. Instream wood and age-1 or older salmonids appear to be either stable at reduced levels or declining, compared with production forestry and unmanaged reference watersheds. Overall, second-growth riparian forests need more time to develop allowing more light into streams (increasing primary productivity), while also allowing for the continuous recruitment of larger pieces of instream wood (improving habitat for salmonids). Using only passive restoration, stream conditions in second-growth forests are unlikely to increase salmonid production in the near future.