Washington State’s network of organizations are committed to recovering salmon. Today, collaboration and partnerships are necessities. The challenge of recovering salmon spans jurisdictional boundaries and will take all of us working together to face the big challenges of the future.
Citizens and Landowners
Every day, people make decisions that can either benefit or burden our natural environment. People can contribute to salmon recovery by making good land use decisions, using products that don’t harm salmon, and keeping pollution out of our waterways. Visit How you can help to see more things you can do for salmon. Landowners and forest landowners also play vital roles because many of the restoration projects occur on their land. Private forestland owners also have been actively removing barriers to fish migration.
Counties and Cities
Counties and cities are responsible for protecting salmon habitat through the Growth Management Act, the Shoreline Management Act, land use plans, critical area ordinances, shoreline management plans, and other practices.
A half dozen state agencies play pivotal roles in salmon recovery. The Department of Fish and Wildlife co-manages with treaty Indian tribes salmon fishing and hatcheries. It also restores and protects habitat, works with local governments to protect habitat, and participates in programs to remove barriers to fish passage in streams. The Department of Ecology improves and protects water quality, manages and conserves water resources, and manages coastal and inland shorelines to ensure our state has sufficient supplies of clean water for communities and the natural environment. The Salmon Recovery Funding Board, Governor’s Salmon Recovery Office, and the Recreation and Conservation Office provide statewide policy and funding for salmon recovery.
The Department of Transportation is working to remove barriers to fish passage under roads in the state highway system. The Department of Natural Resources also is removing barriers, cleaning up aquatic lands, and regulating forest practices that impact salmon. The Conservation Commission provides voluntary programs for private landowners to implement conservation on their property and for counties to use locally driven watershed plans and voluntary, incentive-based tools to protect critical areas. The Puget Sound Partnership serves as the regional organization for the recovery of salmon in the Puget Sound area.
Indian tribes in Washington are fiercely committed to protecting and recovering salmon. Tribal governments are responsible for hundreds of successful salmon habitat restoration projects. Jointly with state government, treaty Indian tribes co-manage the salmon resource and produce about 40 million salmon annually. Tribes use their treaty rights to protect salmon and habitat for the benefit of all Washington citizens.
Multiple federal agencies have a role in salmon, steelhead, and bull trout recovery. Two key agencies are the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which is responsible for recovering salmon and steelhead under the Endangered Species Act, and the U.S. Department of Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service, which is responsible for managing the recovery of bull trout. The agencies fund recovery efforts and approve or write recovery plans, as well as provide science and monitoring information.
Lead Entities, Project Sponsors, and Regional Recovery Organizations
A myriad of local and regional organizations are the front line staff making salmon recovery happen. Washington’s Salmon Recovery Act organizes the state’s efforts by region and watershed. Regional salmon recovery organizations wrote recovery plans that identify specific actions needed to recover salmon, steelhead, and bull trout listed under the Endangered Species Act to sustainable levels. The federal government approved these science-based plans and now the regional organizations coordinate the implementation of those plans. Lead entities are local, watershed-based organizations that develop local salmon habitat recovery strategies and then recruit organizations to do projects that will restore or protect salmon habitat. Project sponsors are organizations that do the on-the-ground projects. Project sponsors can include cities and towns, counties, Indian tribes, nonprofits, fisheries enhancement groups, conservation and irrigation districts, state and federal agencies, and colleges and universities.