Salmon are ours to save

The 2016 State of Salmon in Watersheds is the Governor’s biennial report on salmon, their habitat, and the progress of statewide salmon recovery efforts.

Why we fight for salmon

Salmon connect us, feed us, and, in many ways, restore us. The migratory reach of the salmon defines the boundaries of the Pacific Northwest. Our state is blessed with salmon in every region. They journey from our coasts and across mountains, through our ports, cities, and suburban backyards; they traverse farms and orchards and great forests through mighty rivers and small streams, persisting in our dynamic, diverse, and shared geography.

Salmon are a cultural touchstone and an economic engine, and they’re great to eat.

Indian tribes rely upon them as a major source of food and a foundation of their way of life.

Salmon give back. All that we do to rebuild their once mighty runs restores the land and water upon which all our lives depend.

Nearly 20 years of sustained statewide efforts by thousands of Washington residents to restore salmon to our landscape has made our communities more resilient in the face of warming temperatures, drought, forest fires, and sea level rise.

We know how to restore salmon, but the challenges are accelerating. Salmon are in trouble, and we need to step up and double down, innovate, and make good on our investments.

Salmon recovery brings multiple benefits

From clean water to more resilient communities, salmon recovery efforts provide a high return on investment for the state and its residents.

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Reconnected floodplains reduce flood risks for communities.
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Free flowing-rivers with intact floodplains provide complex natural habitat for fish, plants, and animals.
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Natural shorelines and estuaries filter pollutants, support shellfish, and shelter salmon.
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Clean and reliably available water is essential for drinking water, irrigation, swimming, and boating.
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Healthy forests absorb carbon, offer refuge for wildlife, and provide economic opportunity for rural communities and recreation for outdoor enthusiasts.

All of these make our communities more resilient in the face of climate change and its impacts—warmer temperatures, greater stresses on our forests, changes in our river and stream flows, rising sea levels.

For more than a century, salmon in the Northwest have been hampered by obstructed passage, overdrawn water, polluted runoff, and habitat loss through urban and rural development, agriculture, and forestry. We overfished, and we relied too heavily on hatchery programs whose impacts weren’t fully understood without addressing habitat concerns.

Close-up of man holding a salmon

Salmon recovery stimulates local and rural economies

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Every $1 million spent on watershed restoration results in an average of 16.7 jobs.
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80 percent of grant money stays in the county where a project is located.
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For every estimated $1 million spent on watershed restoration, $2.2–$2.5 million is generated in total economic activity.
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Salmon recovery funding since 1999 has resulted in more than $1.1 billion in total economic activity.