The Vision

Puget Sound salmon recovery work is the cornerstone of broader Puget Sound recovery efforts, and abundant wild Chinook salmon populations are vital to this effort. The largest of the salmon species, Chinook salmon are significant culturally and an important economic resource for Puget Sound tribes, a favorite food of southern resident orcas, and highly prized by the recreational and commercial fishing industries. A variety of pressures–including urbanization and human population growth, agriculture, dams, stormwater pollution, harvest, and hatcheries–have reduced Puget Sound Chinook populations to one-third of their early-1900s numbers. Without a significant reversal in these trends, along with increased habitat protection efforts, Puget Sound Chinook are unlikely to recover.

Many of the restoration actions in Puget Sound have been effective in improving local habitat quantity and quality even though the region is not seeing significant increases in the number of Chinook salmon. Recovery partners know what is needed to restore salmon populations in Puget Sound, but many of the same challenges noted when the Puget Sound Salmon Recovery Plan was developed in 2005 persist. In addition, emerging challenges–including climate change, balancing salmon needs with the needs of a growing human population, and early marine survival–also require consideration and integration into recovery efforts.

The Puget Sound Partnership has led an effort during the past 2 years to update the regional chapter of the Puget Sound Salmon Recovery Plan with the goal of incorporating new information, addressing gaps in the original recovery plan, and outlining the Puget Sound regional recovery organization structure, responsibilities, and accountability. New topic areas for the regional chapter update include population growth and infrastructure, low summer flows, estuaries, low smolt survival in Puget Sound, water quality, stormwater, and climate change adaptation and resilience.

  • The projects in this region have been successful and are making progress in recovering salmon habitat.
  • Floodplains and estuaries provide critical habitat for salmon. Since 2011, partners have improved 9,550 acres of floodplains, and since 2019, restored tidal flooding to 3,430 acres of estuarine river delta wetlands. Learn more in the Puget Sound Partnership’s State of the Sound.
  • Using the Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration fund, partners have improved 13,521 acres of salmon habitat, permanently protected more than 14,557 acres through property purchases, and opened about 152 miles to fish passage since 2007. These projects have created more than 4,000 jobs, leveraged $122 million in federal and other matching funds, and generated about $760 million in economic activity. More than $304 million has been awarded through the fund since 2007 to support high-priority salmon habitat restoration and protection projects. Many of the projects funded through the fund provide multiple benefits for salmon, the environment, and the surrounding communities where projects are implemented.

Background: Salmon recovery in Washington is driven by regional salmon recovery plans. The recovery plans provide the actions and rationale for where to invest and when. Each region reports on the actions implemented related to what is recommended in the regional recovery plan. The information about recovery plan implementation is grounded in the regional organizations’ extensive knowledge of recovery issues and recovery progress.