Most salmon runs in the Nooksack watershed and other Salish Sea watersheds are in decline, largely due to poor water quality and lack of adequate habitat. In recent years, tribes, local governments, and federal/state agencies have made significant progress on restoring salmon habitat; however, every year, a lack of funding stalls most locally vetted salmon recovery projects. For the past several state budget cycles, the state legislature has funded only 15% of the projects that experts say salmon desperately need.
People who’ve spent their lives studying salmon know what it takes to keep these economically, ecologically and culturally important fish thriving. But they can’t do the work that needs to be done unless we start working through the backlog of already-identified habitat restoration projects. It’s long past time to restore floodplains and riparians areas, decrease stormwater and sewage pollution, remove fish passage barriers like dams and culverts, and maintain healthy nearshore and estuarine areas.
Nooksack River project should be included in salmon funding from WA’s legislature
One particular funding item of local significance is the Puget Sound Acquisition & Restoration (PSAR) Fund. Whatcom County is sponsoring a project along the South Fork Nooksack River that would mitigate flood risks to the town of Acme, connect the river to its historic floodplain, and restore watershed functions that benefit salmon. But the project is currently right below the funding line put forward by the governor’s office. We need to ask our state Reps to fund the PSAR program at $52 million.
Now is the time to right-size salmon investments for the future. Please contact your legislators to ask for substantial increases in salmon habitat investments. These programs provide critical funds to protect and restore habitat for the future.
Here’s what we would like to see funded in the WA legislature for salmon
Voluntary Protection and Restoration Programs
- Salmon Recovery Funding Board $115,000,000 (RCO)
- Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration Program $53,000,000 (PSP)
- Floodplains by Design $70,000,000 (ECY)
- Estuary and Salmon Restoration Program $25,492,200 (RCO)
- Washington Coast Restoration and Resiliency Initiative $17,563,000 (RCO)
- Duckabush River nearshore $42,000,000 (DFW)
- Stormwater Financial Assistance Program $100,000,000 (ECY)
- Centennial Clean Water Program $80,000,000 (ECY)
- State stormwater retrofits $20,000,000 (WSDOT)
- Riparian protection and restoration grant programs additive to existing program $100,000,000 (RCO, ECY, SCC)
- Forest Riparian Easement Program $10,000,000 (DNR)
- Fish Passage Barriers
- Brian Abbott Fish Barrier Removal Board $48,146,000 (DFW)
- Family Forest Fish Passage Program $10,870,000 (RCO)
Operating / Transportation budgets
- 6PPD tire dust action plan and BMPs $7,897,000 (ECY) and $4,186,000 (DFW)
- Riparian round table $480,000 (OFM)
- Statewide riparian coordinator $398,000 (RCO)
- Riparian mapping $1,994,000 (DFW) and $354,000 (ECY)
- Snake River electrical generation and transmission $5,000,000 (COM), barge transportation $5,000,000 (WSDOT), irrigation study $500,000 (ECY)
More on our legislative priorities here.
(Cover photo: Brett Baunton/Wild Nooksack)