A 10-year “tree-to-sea” plan is underway for Washington state’s Snohomish River watershed, to boost salmon habitat for as many as 16 populations of salmonids listed as endangered or threatened, an issue that impacts the entire marine food web up to Puget Sound’s iconic orcas.
Washington Department of Natural Resources plans include identifying priority restoration needs across the watershed, such as kelp and eelgrass in nearshore environments and forest canopies to shade spawning streams and filter pollutants.
State Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz said the Watershed Resilience Action Plan is designed to coordinate, enhance and maximize protection and restoration of salmon habitat along the 20-mile river, adding that despite decades of focus and nearly $1 billion spent in recovery efforts the reality is that the salmon are dying.
“We must confront head-on the threats that imperil our iconic salmon, from climate change and pollution to a growing population and increased urban development,” she said. “This watershed-scale approach provides a model to coordinate and target investments in order to maximize impact and achieve durable program.”
“The Department of Natural Resources is one among many in the network of watershed resilience and salmon recovery partners,” she added. “No one entity can do it all—but each of us must do all that we can.”
Plan goals include protection and clean-up of aquatic habitat, restoration of forests and riparian habitat, revitalization of urban forests and streams, investment in communities and reducing and combating climate impacts. The plan also calls for “greening” urban areas, like Everett, along the watershed. Planting more trees in urban settings can reduce air and water pollution and cool temperatures for salmon, DNR officials said.
The Watershed Resilience Action Plan builds upon the numerous, federally-approved salmon recovery plans such as the Snohomish River Basin Salmon Conservation Plan, the Puget Sound Salmon Recovery Plan and Washington’s Statewide Strategy to Recover Salmon.