Washington State made a 30-year, state-wide commitment to recover salmon, and we have sustained it for the past 17 years. We are implementing regional recovery plans with local leadership and local creativity.
As envisioned in our Statewide Strategy to Recover Salmon: Extinction is not an Option (1999) we have crafted a successful and effective locally led, bottom-up structure to stop the decline of wild salmon, rebuild their populations, and restore the habitat and watershed conditions upon which they depend.
For 15 years, Washington has sustained an unprecedented statewide locally-led effort by thousands of people including state agencies, Indian tribes, and regional organizations to recover salmon and steelhead stream by stream.
Washington State established eight geographical salmon recovery regions to respond to the Endangered Species Act listings. Seven of those have regional organizations that work with local watershed and groups and other community groups to reach consensus on how to recover salmon. Working together, they set fish population goals; develop strategies for addressing harvest, habitat, and hatchery issues; and build commitment to achieve results.
Seven of the eight regional organizations have written recovery plans, which have been adopted by the federal government. Recovery efforts in the Northeast Washington Salmon Recovery Region are coordinated among state and federal governments and the Kalispel Tribe of Indians through the bull trout recovery team.
Lead entities work closely with the regional recovery organizations and are often part of the organization itself. Lead entities work in watersheds to develop strategies to restore salmon habitat and then recruit and partner with organizations to do the work. Lead entities play a key role in efficiently bringing together tribes, federal and state agencies, local governments, citizens, non-profits, businesses, and technical experts to make local decisions about how best to recover salmon. Lead entity technical and citizen committees evaluate and prioritize projects and make funding recommendations to the State.
Conservation districts, regional fisheries enhancement groups, land trusts, and other organizations in each region build relationships with private landowners. Private landowners volunteer to implement habitat improvement projects on their land.
Indian tribes are leaders in protecting and restoring salmon and habitat, as well as co-managing fisheries with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Through treaties with the United States government, many tribes reserved rights to harvest fish, shellfish, wildlife, and other natural resources in exchange for their land. As sovereign nations, they exercise treaty rights that protect us all. They also implement projects in partnership with others that lead to greater environmental successes.
We dedicate the 2016 State of Salmon in Watersheds report and Web site with deepest respect and gratitude to the late Brian Abbott, executive of the Governor’s Salmon Recovery Office. Brian’s leadership and vision were the foundation of this year’s report. We honor and greatly miss his inspiration, optimism, persistence, passion, and integrity in service to Washington salmon recovery. Fish-on, Brian!