In every community, all across Washington, people are joining together to help protect and recover wild salmon. School children, civic leaders, tribal members, farmers, businesses, lawmakers, landowners, local governments, nonprofits, and neighbors are working together to reverse the problems that have brought many wild salmon runs to the brink of extinction.
Serving at the hub are lead entities, which are community-based groups that develop strategies to restore salmon habitat and then recruit organizations to do the work.
Lead entities are local, watershed-based organizations that develop local salmon habitat recovery strategies and then recruit organizations to do habitat protection and restoration projects that will implement the strategies. Lead entities perform an essential role in salmon recovery in Washington State.
Established in law (Revised Code of Washington 77.85), lead entities consist of:
- A lead entity coordinator (usually a county, conservation district, or tribe)
- A committee of local, technical experts
- A committee of local citizens
- A lead entity grant administrator (usually county, conservation district, tribe, or regional organization)
Why Lead Entities are Important to Salmon Recovery
Making Smart Investments
- Lead entities develop strategies that guide where state and federal money will be spent.
- Lead entities coordinate projects that spur local and rural economic development by creating and maintaining family-wage jobs. Restoration funds invested by Washington State are leveraged 3 to 1.
- Lead entities spearhead efforts to recover and sustain salmon populations necessary for viable recreational and commercial fisheries throughout Washington State.
Making Sure Only the Top Priority Projects are Funded
- Lead entities prioritize projects to maximize the public’s investment. Lead entities use habitat strategies and priorities in their recovery plans to guide project lists. This approach ensures that projects will be done in a sequence that produces habitat capable of sustaining healthy populations of salmon.
- Lead entities combine local science and social values to identify salmon recovery projects.
- The complementary roles of the local technical and citizens committees ensure that science and community priorities intersect and that the highest priorities of the watershed rise to the top.
- Lead entities are the nexus for science based, citizen supported salmon habitat recovery efforts, providing a coordinated, efficient, and effective response to the Endangered Species Act.
Involving the Community
- Lead entities are the backbone for locally-based recovery efforts, bringing together tribes, federal and state agencies, local governments, citizens, non-profits, business, and technical experts to make local decisions.
- Lead entities involve a wide range of participants as project applicants, committee members, technical experts, and on the-ground volunteers. Involving these diverse groups’ helps lead entities better understand the needs of fish and how to best protect and restore habitat.
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 RCO are estimated to have resulted in more than 4,400 new or sustained jobs, and created nearly $650 million in economic activity since 1999.