It took more than 150 years to bring salmon to the brink of extinction. It will take perseverance, partnership, trust, innovation, and increased investment to bring salmon back.
The pressure on salmon continues to be great–from a growing human population taking up valuable salmon habitat and polluting rivers, to increasing numbers of predators such as sea lions. We’ve made significant investments and progress towards recovery, established partnerships, and learned a great deal about how to recover salmon.
During the first 20 years, we tackled many of the smaller, easier projects, established critical partnerships, and created the infrastructure of people, policy, and process to carry recovery work into the future. Many of the implemented projects are successful as measured by the number of fish using the habitat or changes to the landscape that we know supports salmon survival. We aren’t seeing dramatic changes in populations not because what we are doing is not working, but rather because we are not doing enough.
There remains a need for larger projects that affect entire landscapes, the harder projects to change people’s behavior, and the more complex projects that require fundamental changes in how we handle a growing population. These are all projects that require significant investments, sacrifice, and the willingness to make the tough decisions.
Orca populations, local to the Puget Sound and Salish Sea, are starving and listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act. Without changes, they, like the salmon they eat, face extinction. Fortunately many of the actions necessary to recover salmon align and support the actions recommended to save the orcas by the Governor’s Southern Resident Killer Whale Task Force. Regional recovery plans include the following major priorities: