Saving the Salmon
Salmon are an anadromous species, living part of their lives in fresh water and part in the marine salt waters. In the Pacific Northwest, salmon must return to the rivers and streams that connect to the Puget Sound in order to reproduce. Habitat destruction, caused by development and population growth over the last century, has lead to significant reductions in salmon populations. Some Pacific Northwest Salmon populations are now so low, they are listed as endangered species.The Suquamish Tribe Salmon Recovery Program has been engaged in numerous habitat protection and restoration projects over the decades. Examples of habitat recovery efforts in East Kitsap include projects in the Dogfish Creek system, Barker Creek, Salmonberry Creek, Gorst Creek, Chico Creek, Carpenter Creek Estuary and Cowling Creek.
Chico Creek produces the largest run of wild chum salmon –from 30,000 to 80,000 chum per year — in Kitsap County. The creek also supports coho, steelhead, cutthroat trout and occasional stray Chinook salmon. The Suquamish Tribe has monitored the watershed and salmon returns for 30 years. Recent project focus has targeted culvert removal, improved fish passage, and riparian and in stream habitat restoration.
A Collaborative Approach
Suquamish works with federal, state, local, and other tribal governments on the development and implementation of recovery plans for salmon within the Tribe’s usual & accustomed fishing areas. The Salmon Recovery Coordinator works closely with the West Sound Watershed Council for salmon recovery. Collectively, partners produce 3-year work plans that enumerate and prioritize projects in three broad categories: habitat restoration; research, monitoring, and evaluation; and public outreach and education. The Salmon Recovery Coordinator also works with other Suquamish Tribe Marine Fisheries staff to ensure integration and consistency of habitat, hatchery, and harvest programs with local and regional recovery goals, along with supporting the development of local strategies and priorities for inclusion in the Puget Sound Partnership action agenda. The South Fork Dogfish Creek Restoration Project is an example of a collaborative effort which will result in improved surface water management and flood mitigation as well as habitat protection and increased abundance and diversity of salmonids in Dogfish Creek.
Current Restoration Projects
Currently, the Salmon Recovery Program is designing and implementing the following high priority restoration projects:
- Chico Creek Esturary Restoration
A $2 million project to restore esturine habitat conditions and improve fish passage at the mouth of the West Sound’s most productive salmon stream.
- Golf Club Hill Road Culvert Replacement & Habitat Restoration
A design only project that will set up replacement of a mainstem Chico Creek culvert with an approximately 100 foot bridge together with upstream restoration of channel and floodplain conditions.
- Milwaukee Dock Eelgrass Restoration
A $1.7 Million project in partnership with the Elliott Bay Trustee Council to restore approximately 1.5 acres of subtidal habitat and eelgrass at the former location of the Milwaukee Dock on Bainbridge Island near Eagle Harbor.
- Doe-Kag-Wats Anthropogenic Wood Removal
A project to remove cut logs from an approximate 1 acre area in the Doe-Kag-Wats marsh to restore estuarine wetland functions.
Salmon recovery staff are responsible for comprehensive implementation, beginning with securing the necessary grant funds and continuing through construction to post-completion monitoring for each project.
Education & Outreach
The Tribe’s Salmon Recovery Program conducts education and outreach through the Cowling Creek Center, providing education about the ecological and life history needs of salmon and other fish through hands-on learning experiences for students of all ages.