The salmon recovery plan

The Stillaguamish Chinook Salmon Recovery Plan is intended to provide a technically sound set of actions to restore sustainable populations of Stillaguamish Chinook Salmon.

A history of the plan

In 1991 the federal government listed the first Pacific Northwest salmon population as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). By 2000, salmon numbers decreased so much that salmon listings under ESA affected three quarters of Washington State. The ESA requires the federal government to develop recovery plans for listed salmon species and state law requires a statewide salmon recovery strategy. This spurred Washington State to create a grassroots effort which is one of the most complex recovery efforts in the nation. In 1999, Washington worked with the federal government to allow watersheds to write their own recovery plans for ESA listings. This action kept decisions local instead of in the hands of the federal government.

The Chinook Recovery Plan for the Stillaguamish watershed was created by the Stillaguamish Implementation Review Committee (SIRC) in 2005 and outlines an integrated strategy for restoring and protecting Stillaguamish Chinook Salmon populations to sustainable and harvestable levels. This Plan includes individual approaches that address habitat, harvest, and hatchery management. It also proposes habitat projects that restore watershed processes to improve Chinook salmon populations.   

The Plan was the culmination of years of work by a diverse group of stakeholders, including the Stillaguamish and Tulalip Tribes, Snohomish County, Cities of Stanwood and Arlington, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), private landowners, agricultural producers, the Stillaguamish Flood Control District, United States Forest Service (USFS), Snohomish Conservation District (SCD), Pilchuck Audubon, Stillaguamish Grange, Washington Farm Forestry Association, WA Department of Natural Resources (DNR), WSU Cooperative Extension, Stillaguamish Snohomish Fisheries Enhancement Task Force, Washington Dairy Federation, and WA Department of Ecology (ECY). 

The plan consists of nine sections: 1. Introduction, 2. Current status of Stillaguamish Chinook salmon populations, 3. Planning targets for Chinook salmon recovery, 4. Watershed vision for salmon recovery, 5. Habitat restoration strategy, 6. Habitat protection strategy, 7. Stewardship education and outreach strategy, 8. Monitoring and adaptive management strategy, and 9. Long-term planning issues. 

The introduction covers why the plan was developed and how it ties into the Shared Strategy and Central Puget Sound ESU Efforts. It highlights the reasoning for the Chinook salmon focus and how efforts to restore habitat and ecosystem processes for Chinook salmon will also benefit other ESA listed species. 

The current status of Stillaguamish Chinook salmon populations highlights the requirements needed for Chinook salmon and different factors affecting Chinook Salmon populations like land use, policies, habitat limiting factors, harvest, hatchery and more. 

The planning targets for Chinook Salmon Recovery discuss viable salmon populations, ecosystem diagnosis and treatment, and properly functioning conditions under the five limiting factors: riparian, estuary/nearshore, large woody debris, floodplain, sediment, hydrology. 

The habitat restoration strategy discusses the 10-year habitat restoration projects for the limiting factors, what the anticipated results might show, long-term habitat restoration projects and stakeholders needed for implementation. 

The habitat protection strategy discusses existing habitat protection actions, existing tools like incentives, comprehensive plans, acquisitions, land use recommendations, regulatory actions, and compliance and enforcement. 

The stewardship education and outreach strategy discusses different types of audiences, approaches, goals, and outreach topics such as function of shoreline, wetland and nearshore habitats, salmon ecology and habitat requirements, noxious weeds and invasive species, water quality issues, best management practices, policy affecting landowners and lastly stewardship activities. 

The monitoring and adaptive management section highlights the purpose, monitoring elements, implementation monitoring, effectiveness monitoring, validation monitoring and the importance to change as needed and based on findings. 

The long-term planning issues section discusses funding, economic analyses, data gaps and policy and regulation issues which can hinder salmon recovery efforts.  

It is important to note that both The Stillaguamish and Tulalip Tribes have a deep cultural and economic stake in viable salmon populations. Rights to fish for salmon are protected by federal treaty and have been verified by subsequent court decisions. Because populations are so depressed, the Tribes have not had a directed Chinook salmon fishery in the watershed for over three decades. It cannot be overstated how critically the cultural survival of the Tribes is dependent on the survival of salmon. For centuries, the Tribes have followed and depended on the migration of the salmon for subsistence, ceremonial and, eventually, economic livelihood. The Boldt decision upheld the Tribes’ right to harvest salmon in their usual and accustomed areas, and started the discussion of co-management with the State of Washington over habitat protection. The Tribes will continue to be a key partner for salmon recovery and one with a special stake in its success.

Timeline

2000
L
2000

Technical Assessment with Recommendations

SWC created this assessment to inform Chinook Recovery in the Watershed.

2005
L
2005

Chinook Salmon Recovery Plan

Vetted plan to address limiting factors for Chinook salmon in the Stillaguamish.

2013
L
2013

Revised Restoration Targets for the Stillaguamish Estuary

Utilizing the best available science, the Estuary restoration targets were updated.

2016
L
2016

LWD Final Plan

Utilized adaptive management to update desired future conditions for large wood targets.

2020
L
2020

Acquisition Strategy

Prioritized parcels to acquire that impact Chinook salmon habitat conservation and restoration.

Important Links

The Plan

Chinook Salmon Recovery Plan

The Stillaguamish Chinook Salmon Recovery Plan is intended to provide a technically sound set of actions to restore sustainable populations of Stillaguamish Chinook Salmon. This Plan includes individual approaches that address habitat management, harvest management, and hatchery management. It also proposes habitat projects that restore watershed processes to improve Chinook salmon populations.    

The Plan was the culmination of years of work amongst a diverse group of stakeholders, including the Stillaguamish and Tulalip Tribes, Snohomish County, Cities of Stanwood and Arlington, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), private landowners, Ag producers, The Stillaguamish Flood Control District, United States Forest Service (USFS), Snohomish Conservation District (SCD), Pilchuck Audubon, Stillaguamish Grange, Washington Farm Forestry Association, WA Department of Natural Resources (DNR), WSU Cooperative Extension, Stillaguamish Snohomish Fisheries Enhancement Task Force, Washington Dairy Federation, and WA Department of Ecology (ECY).

Plan Addendums

Addendums to Chinook Salmon Recovery Plan

The SWC takes a monitoring and adaptive management approach to Chinook salmon recovery.  As the best available science changes over time, addendums are created to address the limiting factors in Chinook recovery.

Earth Views

Touring the Stillaguamish

Earth Views is a tool which allows you to “float” the Stillaguamish River. See panoramic views of 82 river miles, turn on data layers to see where Chinook historically spawn and where priority salmon recovery areas exist in the watershed.