The Stillaguamish Watershed Council (SWC) was founded in 1990 to address water quality issues and declining salmon populations. Before it was called the SWC, it was known as the Stillaguamish Implementation Review Committee (SIRC). When Chinook Salmon were listed under the Endangered Species Act in 1999, the SWC shifted its main focus from water quality issues to recovering Chinook Salmon populations. In 2005, the Stillaguamish Implementation Review Committee developed the Stillaguamish Watershed Chinook Salmon Recovery Plan. This plan outlines a set of actions to restore sustainable Chinook populations. Citizens, agencies, Tribes, non-governmental groups and groups of varying and at times opposing interests worked together to develop the plan. Over the years, instead of updating the entire plan, appendices were added to the 2005 plan to keep it updated based on the best available science.
Watershed Councils are coordinated by lead entities and provide opportunities for communities across Washington State to join together to help protect and recover salmon. Lead Entities combine local science and social values to identify salmon recovery projects (Lead Entities are watershed based groups that develop strategies to restore salmon habitat then recruit organizations to do the work. They are the backbone of locally-based efforts taking a grassroots approach to salmon restoration, incorporating local values and the best available science. There are 25 Lead Entities in Washington State, 15 of which are in Puget Sound. There are around 21 individuals and member organizations in the Stillaguamish Watershed Council alone). The complementary roles of local technical and citizen members ensures that science and community priorities intersect, and the highest priorities of the watershed rise to the top. Lead entities work with their citizen watershed council to develop salmon habitat restoration strategies to guide the selection of projects. Lead entities are funded by the Washington State Legislature and the federal government through the Salmon Recovery Funding Board. Lead entities are required by the State Salmon Recovery Act RCW 77.85. The intent of this legislature is to recover populations of ESA-listed species at a local level.