Washington’s Efforts to
Recover Salmon Species
To recover salmon, Washington is trying to protect the wild salmon that remain and help them increase their numbers by restoring where they live.
Creating Healthy HabitatsIn Washington, the Salmon Recovery Funding Board provides grants to local organizations in watersheds to restore and protect salmon habitat. Some results:
- Removal of 220 barriers to fish migration, opening up more than 1,014 miles of habitat.
- Restoration of 543 acres of wetlands, nearly 6,000 acres of estuaries, 2,521 acres of riparian areas, and 11,526 acres of uplands.
- Restoration of habitat in 188 miles of stream.
- Protection of 28,408 acres and 348 miles of stream habitat.
- Installation of 456 fish screens to keep fish in rivers and out of irrigation ditches.
- Removal of invasive plants from more than 3,700 acres of land along rivers, wetlands, and estuaries.
Protecting Wild Salmon by Managing FisheriesThe Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and others mark millions of hatchery fish (hatchery overview). These efforts can help improve the protection of wild salmon by allowing anglers to identify which fish are wild and return them to the water. These efforts are vital to maintain fishing as an important part of the state’s economy. Some results:
- Fewer wild fish are being harvested. The harvest rate has dropped an average of 41 percent in response to Endangered Species Act listings, except for Columbia River Chinook where stocks recently have become more abundant.
- More fish are being marked. The Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife has more than doubled the number of areas where hatchery marked Chinook, coho, and steelhead can be caught, from 88 areas in 1998 to 181 today.
- Improvements to hatcheries are reducing impacts on wild fish and can increase the production of fish that can be caught by anglers. From 1998 to 2008, a greater number of Puget Sound and Columbia River hatchery programs met scientific standards, increasing from 18 percent in 1998 to 27 percent today. Learn more about hatchery review efforts.
Washington’s Unique Approach to Salmon Recovery and Planning
Washington has chosen to tackle salmon recovery in a unique way. To develop salmon recovery plans that address habitat, hatcheries, harvest, and hydropower, people in communities didn't wait for the federal government to write the plans, but organized themselves across the state to address Endangered Species Act listings of fish. This bottom-up approach and scale of their efforts is unprecedented in the United States and has been dubbed “The Washington Way” by those involved in salmon recovery.
The network of individuals dedicated to restoring salmon starts with people in communities and includes watershed groups, regional organizations, state and federal agencies, city and county governments, tribes, conservation districts, nonprofit groups, as well as the legislature, Governor, and Congress.
To coordinate the work of recovery planning and implementation, seven regional organizations formed and recovery plans in each of those regions have been accepted by the federal government and are being implemented.
Lead EntitiesLead entities are watershed based organizations authorized by the Legislature in 1998 (Revised Code of Washington 77.85.050 - 77.85.070) to develop habitat restoration and protection strategies, and look for projects to meet those strategies.
Project applicants develop habitat restoration and protection projects based on regional recovery plans or strategies developed by lead entities. Project applicants typically are regional fisheries enhancement groups, local governments, tribes, state agencies, community groups, land trusts, and others. They apply for grants from the Salmon Recovery Funding Board and others to pay for projects to protect or restore salmon and bull trout habitat. See the current list of successful applicants.
Economics of Salmon Recovery
The path to salmon recovery in Washington State means jobs for local communities. A $1 million investment in watershed restoration directly results in 15-33 new or sustained jobs and has been shown to create $2.2-2.5 million in total economic activity. Also, 80 percent of grant money is spent in the county where the project is located, helping local families and businesses. Using that formula, salmon restoration projects funded through the Salmon Recovery Funding Board and Recreation and Conservation Office are estimated to have resulted in more than 4,400 new or sustained jobs, and created nearly $650 million in economic activity since 1999.