Successful Projects Help Recover and Protect Habitat

Habitat restoration and protection is paramount for salmon recovery. While challenges remain (development, marine survival, climate change, etc.), significant progress is being made throughout the region through the following projects:

  • Middle Fork Nooksack River fish passage project (Whatcom County) reestablished 16 miles of spawning and rearing habitat for Chinook and coho salmon and steelhead and bull trout. This project is considered the single most beneficial restoration action to increase spring Chinook salmon populations in the watershed.
  • Kilisut Harbor (North Olympic Peninsula) project restores natural processes to 27 acres of marine intertidal habitat and salt marsh that were severely  impacted by the construction of a road. This project reconnected habitat for migrating juvenile salmon and provided immense feeding opportunities in the harbor. Read more about this project in the Executive Summary.
  • Smith Island estuary restoration project (Snohomish County) restored more than 300 acres of Puget Sound tidal wetland, providing slow water for young salmon to rest, feed, and grow before moving to the ocean.
Continued Growth and Development Threatens Habitat Quality

While progress is being made in protecting and restoring habitat around Puget Sound, valuable salmon habitat continues to be lost in many areas. In some watersheds, development is surpassing restoration. Success in recovering salmon runs will require both restoring degraded habitat and ramping up protection of functioning habitat. The Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission’s State of Our Watersheds report provides information about habitat problems in Puget Sound. The report notes the greatest pressures affecting salmon recovery as the following:

  • Shoreline armoring
  • Impervious surfaces, stormwater runoff, and water quality
  • Permit-exempt wells
  • Loss of forest cover
  • Fish passage barriers
  • Development in floodplains and estuaries
  • High rate of human population growth

The Puget Sound Vital Signs Web site provides the latest information about the health of Puget Sound with indicators and targets representing water, habitat, species and food webs, and human wellbeing. The 2019 State of the Sound is the biennial report for the recovery community on ecosystem conditions as well as funding and recovery actions in Puget Sound.

Trekking the Backroads Counting Culverts for Salmon

Volunteers map culverts blocking salmon passage along Clallam County-owned roads. Read More.

Setting the Table for Fish, Farms, and Floodplains

Making watershed a place where salmon and people live together. Read More.

For more information about habitat project actions, visit the Recreation and Conservation Office’s Salmon Recovery Portal and Project Search public databases.

View data on Habitat statewide. Visit the Salmon Data Hub for more of the data behind the indicator charts and graphs used throughout this site.