Continued challenges
Implementation Progress Report 2006-2015

Salmon eggs

The City of Redmond's Citywide Watershed Management Plan, adopted in 2013, is an integrated, watershed-based approach to stormwater management and aquatic habitat restoration in urban areas. Adopting a broader watershed perspective encourages the development of solutions for stormwater management and salmon recovery that can satisfy several regulatory requirements at once, meaning more efficient and effective recovery of salmon habitat in developed areas. Customized strategies to address cumulative impacts to urban waters emerge when a local government takes a holistic watershed approach.

Creek and bridge

Land use and population growth

Because of their responsibilities for land use, local governments are key to habitat protection and restoration efforts. The WRIA 8 Plan offers land use recommendations for local governments—including regulations and incentive programs—to protect salmon habitat and complement restoration actions by protecting forest cover, streamside and lakeshore buffers, and water quality. Surveys conducted by WRIA 8 staff in 2009 and 2015 show that local governments are implementing land use regulations and best management practices. While there are some indications that land use regulations may protect habitat sufficiently, it will be important to improve our understanding of regulatory effectiveness.

As our region grows, land use pressures will continue to threaten the quality and function of remaining salmon habitat. Expanding programs and incentives for developers that reward the use of sustainable materials, reduced water use, and innovative stormwater management will be essential.

Stormwater management

With new research and information implicating stormwater directly in salmon mortality, it will be important to more closely link stormwater management and salmon recovery. Through the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit requirements, local governments are taking actions to manage stormwater more effectively. Stormwater managers should give greater consideration to salmon recovery objectives in their management decisions and outreach activities, and salmon recovery managers should identify and prioritize addressing stormwater as part of recovery.

Resources for continued implementation and communicating progress

Sustainable Funding: Securing adequate funding to keep salmon recovery progress on pace with our WRIA 8 Plan has been, and will continue to be, a fundamental challenge. The long-term nature of salmon recovery requires dedicated, predictable funding. Local communities, the state, and the federal government have invested significant resources in protecting and restoring salmon habitat to date, and WRIA 8 will need more to build on this initial investment.

High temperatures and low stream flows (pdf) experienced in the summer of 2015 pose challenges to salmon migration and survival and may become more common in the future under various climate change scenarios.

Adequate Staffing: Many local governments and other partners also lack capacity to develop projects in time to take advantage of funding opportunities that arise. During the past decade, many local governments reduced staff, which has limited their project planning and management capability. We need to appropriately build the human infrastructure that supports effective project development and management.

Measuring Success and Inspiring Ongoing Efforts: It is challenging to implement and report on habitat projects when it may take decades to fully realize their benefits. Similarly, we may know of areas we need to protect, but it takes time to cultivate willing sellers. To support and inform project implementation and incorporate lessons learned, we must monitor project effectiveness and trends in salmon and habitat health.

Communicating Regional Benefits: We must continue to demonstrate how salmon recovery benefits other regional priorities and better promote habitat restoration progress to make the case for funding this work.

Recovering salmon in a changing climate

Low drinking water in a reservoirHealthy, functioning ecosystems can help support a sustainable future for salmon and people, which is even more critical as we face the anticipated effects of climate change. Fortunately, many of WRIA 8's habitat protection and restoration strategies, including restoring stream corridors and lakeshores and reconnecting floodplains, will make ecosystems and communities more resilient to a changing climate. However, we need to better understand, assess, and adaptively manage for these changing conditions to sustain salmon and ourselves.

For example, the lack of snowpack and spring rain in 2015, combined with high summer temperatures, reduced stream and river flows to record lows and increased temperatures to lethal levels in many streams. If such conditions become more common in the future, we must develop strategies to address them to support salmon recovery.