Are we making progress on Long Live the Kings’ namesake fish in Puget Sound?
Puget Sound Chinook salmon were listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1999. In response, there was a bottom-up approach to planning that resulted in watershed-by-watershed recovery plans, drawing an unprecedented level of community involvement and support. These plans were approved by NOAA in 2007. Today, Long Live the Kings is working with agencies, tribes, and other partners at many levels to refine, improve, and manage Chinook recovery actions around Puget Sound.
The complexity and scope of Puget Sound Chinook recovery have created a number of challenges.
Salmon are listed and managed under the Endangered Species Act by regions (called Evolutionarily Significant Units or Distinct Population Segments). Collectively, the 22 populations of Puget Sound Chinook are listed as threatened, and the Puget Sound Partnership is the regional organization responsible for recovery. There are several other regions throughout the state with different listed species.
In the recovery plan chapters drafted in 2005 for each watershed, there was different terminology, different measures of success, and different strategies for the same species. These inconsistencies have made it challenging to communicate successes and challenges within watersheds and across the whole basin. To ensure the ultimate success of Puget Sound Chinook recovery, we need a cohesive plan that the Puget Sound Partnership can oversee and integrate with other efforts to recover the health of the basin as a whole.
Long Live the Kings has been working with partner watersheds and the Puget Sound Partnership to give the current recovery plans a common language, a shared set of metrics, and coordinated recovery strategies. This work will provide context for local actions, from land use policy to public education to on-the-ground restoration. Where possible, we will link hatchery and harvest oversight in a unified system, allowing for true adaptive management.
Jacques White, LLTK Executive Director, sits on the Puget Sound Salmon Recovery Council, a stakeholder Board of the Puget Sound Partnership. In this capacity, she helps direct management of the recovery plan based on emerging science and collective policy decisions. As watershed-scale and regional plans are updated and common metrics show us where we are gaining or losing ground, we expect habitat management in each watershed and the Puget Sound region as a whole to significantly improve. Susan O’Neil, LLTK Conservation Planning Manager, is currently working in watersheds as they update their goals, indicators, and strategies for recovery.
Chinook populations affected
partners refining recovery plans
common language developed
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