Regional overview

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Puget Sound: Key takeaways

1Puget Sound is home to 59 populations of Chinook salmon, steelhead, and bull trout, all of which are listed under the Endangered Species Act, most of which continue to decline.

2Our greatest challenge is balancing the needs of the more than 4 million people living in the Puget Sound region while also protecting critical salmon habitat.

3While always learning, we know what needs to be done to recover our salmon as well as ensure a thriving and sustainable Puget Sound environment. The investment so far has been a fraction of what is needed to reach recovery goals.

Visit the Regional Recovery Organization’s Web site:

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2018 progress and challenges


  • We know what needs to be done, our projects are successful and we are making progress on salmon habitat recovery.
  • Between 2011 and 2017, 4,060 acres of Puget Sound floodplains have been restored. While we are not on track to make our 2020 target, floodplains provide critical salmon habitat while also enhancing freshwater quality and supporting economic vitality. Learn more in the Puget Sound Partnership’s State of Sound report.
  • Removing shoreline armoring provides habitat for small fish that salmon, as well as birds and marine mammals, eat. The rate of permitted shoreline armoring has slowed and more were permitted for removal than were added in 2014 and 2016.
  • Since 2007, the Washington State Legislature has allocated more than $200 million to the Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration fund, or about 15 percent of the total annual need for Puget Sound salmon recovery.


  • Habitat protection remains a major challenge. The Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission’s State of Our Watersheds report details habitat problems in Puget Sound and the Chinook Salmon Implementation Strategy process identified protection as critical for salmon recovery.
  • Results from research studies Salish Sea Marine Survival Project need to be used to influence decisions. Significant resources have been invested in Puget Sound salmon recovery efforts, but we need more adequate, reliable funding to ensure we advance Puget Sound recovery efforts as a whole. The impacts of climate change and appropriate responses need to be better understood and incorporated into recovery planning, including project development, implementation and monitoring.

About our region

Among the largest estuaries in the United States, Puget Sound is deep and vast, a complex ecosystem encompassing mountains, farmlands, cities, rivers, forests, and wetlands. Humans have long relied on the Puget Sound watershed for healthy food and clean water and the other services an intact ecosystem provides, like reducing the impact of droughts and floods. Puget Sound supports a large part of our state’s economy and provides vital recreational, spiritual, and other benefits essential to quality of life. But Puget Sound is in trouble. Stormwater pollution and habitat destruction continue to degrade the ecosystem, threatening the well-being of the ecosystem and the humans that occupy it. Restoring self-sustaining, harvestable salmon runs to the region protects humans as well as fish, and honors tribal treaty rights.

Salmon recovery stories

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Puget Sound salmon recovery region of Washington state