Calling it the “Watershed Resilience Action Plan” for the Snohomish River Watershed, Washington state Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz outlined a system of fixes to bring back salmon and other fish to the river on Tuesday.
Citing 16 populations of salmon and salmon-related fish that are now endangered or threatened, the plan calls for protection and cleanup of aquatic habitat from the forests of the Cascades to where the river empties into the salt water of the Salish Sea.
It also seeks to restore forest in urban areas and the streams running through them into the river. Trees not only filter water going into the river, but provide shade. Salmon and salmonid fish species, such as trout, depend on cold water, and in a warming western Washington where 100-degree temperatures are no longer unheard of, more trees can provide shade that can mitigate the effects.
But the effort doesn’t end at the end of the river. The plan is to also restore kelp and eel grasses where salmon smolt leaving the river can find food and hide from predators.
Cutting pollution is also part of the plan, which includes removal of derelict vessels along its banks.
“Despite decades of focus and nearly $1 billion invested in recovery efforts, the sad reality is our salmon are dying,” Franz said. “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. That is where this plan comes in.
“This watershed-scale approach provides a model to coordinate and target investments in order to maximize impact and achieve durable progress. The Department of Natural Resources is one among many in the network of watershed resilience and salmon recovery partners. No one entity can do it all – but each of us must do all that we can.”