Puget Sound salmon recovery plan is a good start

Statement by Rob Masonis of American River Contact: Rob Masonis, 206-679-3536 (cell) Amy Kober, 206-213-0330 x23 Seattle -- NOAA Fisheries today released its final plan for recovering Puget Sound chinook salmon. Rob Masonis, Northwest regional director for American Rivers, made the following statement. “Our wild salmon and steelhead runs are one of the things that make western Washington such a special place to live. We all share a responsibility to recover these fish and protect our Northwest way of life. We applaud the vision that went into crafting this plan, and the collaboration and hard work of the local communities. “Much of the hard work lies ahead. The next step is to ensure that this plan translates into real actions on the ground, and this will require the commitment and cooperation of diverse interests. There is a role for just about everyone in implementing the plan, and every level of government needs to work together to ensure that the plan is adequately funded and that laws are enforced. “While the plan is an excellent start, there are gaps that need attention. The criteria for recovery are weak, and leave too many salmon populations at too high a level of risk. The plan does not appear to ensure that rivers and streams will have adequate flows for salmon, and it also falls short on actions that will remove pollution from Puget Sound rivers and streams. “As the plan clearly states, protecting existing high-quality habitat is essential to the plan’s success. There are several river protection tools available under federal law, such as Wild and Scenic river designations and Outstanding Resource Waters designations, that should be used for that purpose. “If we take the necessary measures to recover salmon and steelhead, like improving water quality, reducing water during dry times of the year, reconnecting floodplains, and protecting streamside forests, an added bonus will be better health and higher quality of life for families across the Puget Sound region, and for generations to come.”