Washington’s Efforts to Recover Salmon Species

To recover salmon, Washington is trying to protect the wild salmon that remain and help them increase their numbers by making progress on restoring where they live.

The federal Endangered Species Act and Washington State law require development of recovery plans to recover salmon. Washington residents have been working for decades to reverse the fate of salmon, and those efforts are beginning to pay off.

Progress on Creating Healthy Habitats

In Washington, local organizations use RCO grants to restore and protect salmon habitat. Some results:

  • 1,260 barriers to migrating fish removed, opening up more than 3,200 miles of habitat.
  • 425 acres of wetlands, 9,115 acres of estuaries,
    23,807 acres along waterways, and 28,170 acres of uplands restored.
  • 508 miles of in-stream habitat restored.
  • 3,080 miles of streambank and shoreline restored.
  • 456 fish screens installed to keep fish in rivers and out of irrigation ditches.
  • 24,070 acres along rivers, wetlands, and estuaries cleared of invasive species.

Protecting Wild Salmon by Managing Fisheries

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and others mark millions of hatchery fish. These efforts can help improve the protection of wild salmon by allowing anglers to identify which fish are wild and return them to the water. These efforts are vital to maintain fishing as an important part of the state’s economy.

  • Fewer wild salmon are being harvested. The harvest rate has dropped an average of 41 percent in response to Endangered Species Act listings, except for Columbia River Chinook where stocks recently have become more abundant.
  • Improvements to hatcheries are reducing impacts on wild fish and are increasing the number of fish that could be caught by anglers. From 1998 to 2008, a greater number of Puget Sound and Columbia River hatchery programs met scientific standards, increasing from 18 percent in 1998 to 27 percent.

Economics of Salmon Recovery

The path to salmon recovery in Washington State means jobs for local communities.

About 80 percent of grant money is spent in the county where the project is located.

Using that formula, salmon restoration projects funded through the Salmon Recovery Funding Board are estimated to have resulted in:

  • More than 4,400 new or sustained jobs
  • Nearly $650 million in economic activity since 1999.

A $1 million investment in watershed restoration directly results in 15-33 new or sustained jobs and has been shown to create $2.2 million to $2.5 million in total economic activity.

Ways to Help

It’s going to take all of us getting involved to make more progress for salmon, our environment, and our shared future. Visit our Governor’s Salmon Recovery Office’s State of Salmon report to see what you can do in your day-to-day life to help salmon.