The Road Ahead: What’s Next for Salmon Recovery

Washingtonians care about salmon, and thanks in part to the conversations driven by the tribes, legislators, and advocates who built the Lorraine Loomis Act, the state Legislature is putting forth substantial investments into salmon recovery this year. With over $164 million proposed for salmon in the Senate’s budget, we’re hopeful that the legislature will meet the moment and give salmon the support they need.

From riparian restoration projects, fish passage barrier removal and watershed health, to program assessments and green infrastructure projects, proposed investments for salmon health are broad in their impact, and deserve to make it to the finish line next week. Below are a few of the highlights.

Empowering riparian stewardship

Trees and plants planted along the water’s edge help mitigate rising temperatures and provide critical habitat function, but many of our riparian zones are too degraded to support salmon. Targeted investments for their restoration are key, but these programs must recognize the need for flexibility, robust incentives and cost-share provisions to help landowners make these necessary changes.

Riparian habitat (foreground) alongside the Skagit River. © Marlin Greene/One Earth Images

This year, proposed budgets include funding for voluntary salmon recovery and agricultural buffer programs, like the Salmon Recovery Board Riparian Grants, Centennial Clean Water Grants for riparian conservation, the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program and Voluntary Stewardship Program. These programs provide incentives and empower landowners, salmon recovery leaders, and farmers to take conservation into their own hands and restore their riparian zones.

Also included is funding for evaluating these important programs. We know we need everyone at the table to figure out the best path forward for riparian restoration, so these investments would include gathering stakeholders to assess current voluntary restoration programs, identify riparian conditions and any gaps to voluntary implementation, and make recommendations for improvements, including stronger rules.

Read More About Agriculture’s Role in Habitat Restoration

Cleaning up our waterways

The Aurora Bridge Bioswale project was designed to clean up toxic stormwater coming off this Seattle bridge. Runoff passes through a series of natural filters to raingardens below. Photo by Courtney Baxter/TNC.

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