Scientific monitoring and evaluation of recovery work must be fully funded
The indicators in this report tell us about the status of fish populations, watershed health, and implementation of recovery and sustainability plans, statewide. For details at the regional scale, please visit the individual region pages on this site.
The indicators tell us how we are doing and whether we need to adjust recovery plans. Although scientific monitoring and evaluation of recovery investments was written into recovery plans from the beginning, they have never been fully funded.
Populations: Fish and People
Progress toward recovery
One important way to measure the health of salmon species is by counting the number of adult fish that return from the ocean to spawn in their native rivers. the chart above is a non-statistical evaluation of natural origin (wild) fish that returned to spawn.
In addition to the number of fish, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) evaluates attributes that are not shown in this report such as productivity, life history, genetic diversity, and the spatial structure (where and when the fish migrate and spawn) of the populations. NOAA also considers threats and factors affecting the health of listed fish including habitat, harvest, and hydropower impacts.
*Recovery goals for Puget Sound steelhead are under development. Draft recovery goals are available for public review at NOAA’s Web site .
Washington’s population has grown from roughly 357,000 people at statehood in 1889 to more than 7.4 million today.
To better understand the effect this growing population has on the environment, scientists look at the ecological footprint of humans. An ecological footprint measures the impact one person has on the environment by looking at how much land is required to sustain him/her. An ecological footprint considers the following:
- Fuel use
- Public transportation use
- Plastic waste creation and recycling
- Buying habits
Globally, U.S. citizens rank sixth for their per capita ecological footprint. This means the country’s population has a much greater impact on its environment than almost every other country in the world. A recent San Francisco study found that Seattle had the highest footprint of 13 cities surveyed in the United States. See study here (pg. 6).
Population growth in Washington State is projected to continue to increase, leading to further urban development. By 2037, Washington’s population is projected to surpass 9 million people, most of whom will move to Washington from out of state.
The byproducts of this growth – urban expansion, shoreline armoring, and toxic stormwater runoff – harm salmon and damage their habitat.
Armoring our Shorelines
Nearly 27 percent of Puget Sound’s shorelines is armored to protect buildings and development. These armored shorelines destroy salmon habitat by preventing waves from grabbing sediment from land and creating sandy beaches. Instead the sandy beaches are eroded, leaving rocky beaches that are inhospitable to salmon and the fish they eat.
Removing shoreline trees and plants also damages salmon habitat. Shoreline plants shade the water, cooling it for fish. The trees and plants drop branches and leaves into the water, which provide food for the insects salmon eat and places for salmon to rest and hide from predators. Finally, the roots of the trees and plants help keep the soil from entering the water and burying spawning gravel.
Urban Expansion and Toxic Stormwater
Washington’s geography is defined by mountains, water, and arid landscapes, which has concentrated our cities near waterways. See the