The Region Focuses on Habitat Restoration

The Washington Coast region’s approach is to “protect the best and restore the rest” with the goal of preventing additional federal listings and further declines in salmon and steelhead numbers. Overarching strategies developed for the Washington Coast Sustainable Salmon Plan include the following:

Educate and involve the community to protect and restore ecosystem values.

  • In addition to citizen involvement in selecting and evaluating restoration projects, education takes place through community presentations, field tours, and social media platforms. The region is focused on a Strong Salmon Future outreach campaign to bring recognition of projects and people who are working in salmon recovery and to promote community involvement in salmon restoration work,

Protect and restore salmon habitat function

  • The region completed Developing Pilot Watershed Restoration Plans for the Washington Coast Region, a guide to the development of intensive, watershed-scale restoration. Stakeholder groups have launched pilot restoration efforts in the Calawah, Newaukum, and Middle Nemah watersheds.
  • More than 4,000 human-made barriers block fish migration across the region. Stakeholder groups in Olympic Peninsula, Chehalis River Basin, and Willapa Bay watersheds collaboratively developed priorities for fish barrier corrections in their respective areas. This work identifies projects that have the highest benefit and cost effectiveness. Prioritization work continues to be updated by new field data as it becomes available.
  • Since 2000, the region has removed 2,074 fish barriers, including those removed through salmon restoration grants, Road Maintenance and Abandonment Plans, and state culvert corrections. The region also has restored 57 miles of stream habitat, 2,422 acres of off-channel habitat, 9,109 acres of riparian (stream bank) habitat, and 3,441 acres of estuary habitat.

Support hatchery and harvest practices consistent with wild salmon sustainability.

  • The region actively engages with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife on coastal steelhead fishing and Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor Salmon Management policies.

Use economic tools to protect, restore, and maintain ecological system values.

  • The region completed a science review of Salmon Habitat Restoration and Ecosystem Services. The white paper describes benefits provided by healthy and restored watershed components including stream bank and upland habitat, floodplains, tributaries, and estuaries. Communicating the types of ecosystem services associated with salmon habitat promotes inclusive and holistic thinking about how stakeholders benefit from the protection and restoration of salmon habitat.

Improve regulatory effectiveness to achieve salmon sustainability.

  • The Chehalis River is the only watershed in the region that has in-stream flow requirements to protect salmon. The Chehalis River Streamflow Restoration Plan was adopted formally by the Department of Ecology in 2021. The local stakeholder group identified more than 74 projects that will provide a net ecological benefit to the watershed and add 3,309 acre-feet of water back into the streams each year.

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.