What’s Working for Salmon

Are all these efforts to save salmon really working? Alongside other agencies, RCO partners to better understand how salmon are doing as a result of our efforts to restore them. Monitoring asks questions like:

  • Are salmon numbers increasing or declining?
  • Is water quality and habitat improving or getting worse?
  • Where and what are the most important problems?
  • What are the most effective actions to address those problems?
  • Is the money invested in salmon recovery well spent?

Data must be reliable, pertinent, and scientifically valid. And because monitoring is often difficult and costly, agencies work together at all levels, sharing data, avoiding duplication, and maximizing everyone’s financial investments.

Knowing the impact of our efforts is considered so important to success that the federal government requires it of all salmon recovery plans submitted under the Endangered Species Act.

Types of Monitoring

  • Targeted: This method tracks conditions at specific sites. This type of monitoring is used to track permit compliance, such as looking at what’s happening at a sewer outfall, to identify suspected problems, to find the best sites for protection in the most important watersheds.
  • Effectiveness: Funded by the Salmon Recovery Funding Board, this method addresses whether habitat restoration projects are achieving their goals effectively. By measuring environmental conditions, habitat characteristics, and biological indicators, scientists may begin to answer questions such as: Did planted trees shade the stream? Did the logs that were added to streams increase pool depths?

  • Intensively Monitored Watersheds program asks the question: Is restoration working to increase salmon numbers? The Intensively Monitored Watersheds (or IMW) method compares the number of salmon from streams where habitat restoration was done to similar streams nearby without such actions. This shows if changes in fish survival and productivity are due to restoration efforts or to other factors not related to restoration.
  • Implementation: This method tracks whether or not actions were implemented as planned. It answers questions about whether the projects did what they said they would do and whether standards are being met.

What is Washington Doing?

Washington State agencies are following The Washington Comprehensive Monitoring Strategy and Action Plan for Watershed Health and Salmon Recovery. This strategy provides the foundation for coordinating, prioritizing, and standardizing the myriad of monitoring programs and needs across the state.

Monitoring Resources

Project Effectiveness Monitoring

Effectiveness Monitoring Reports

Effectiveness Monitoring Protocols

Intensively Monitored Watersheds

Other Salmon Recovery Funding Board Monitoring Reports

Science Advisory Panel