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Salmon Strategy

Skagit County 2007 Salmon Action Report

Executive Summary

On October 8, 2007, the Skagit County Board of Commissioners unanimously passed Resolution R20070499, the Salmon Policy Resolution. By articulating a coordinated policy for county staff, the Salmon Policy Resolution sets Skagit County on a path of proactive leadership toward salmon recovery in the Skagit and Samish River basins.

The Salmon Policy Resolution orders all county departments to work on salmon recovery through several different strategies and initiatives, and directs departments to consider salmon protection and recovery in all their actions. To effectively monitor progress, the Salmon Policy Resolution requires an annual “Salmon Action Report.” This document is the first such report, and it reveals that Skagit County’s policy has produced clear and decisive results since the Salmon Policy Resolution was executed a mere four months ago.

Skagit County has:

  • Initiated a comprehensive mapping inventory of all lands in permanent riparian habitat status, in order to better understand the work completed and the work ahead;
  • Retained a high-level academic to perform a top-down review of the county’s critical areas monitoring and adaptive management program;
  • Recognized the Skagit Watershed Council as the lead agency for state and federal salmon recovery funding in the Skagit River basin;
  • Tasked the county’s top administrative officer to serve as the county’s representative on the Skagit Watershed Council;
  • Made key habitat acquisitions in partnership with other organizations such as the Skagit Land Trust and The Nature Conservancy;
  • Completed a large-scale salmon habitat enhancement project on Hansen Creek, a key salmon-bearing tributary, in cooperation with local tribes;
  • Moved forward with large-scale habitat acquisition efforts, including the Cockreham Island Buy-Out program;
  • Implemented the Skagit River Instream Flow Rule, which state Ecology director Jay Manning has called the “best instream flow rule in the State of Washington”;
  • Removed undersized culverts and other barriers to fish passage, and replaced them with fish-friendly conveyances;
  • Taken a decisive leadership role in the ongoing Ruckelshaus Center SSB 5248 process, an effort to develop a statewide scheme for protection of riparian habitat in agricultural areas;
  • Implemented the Skagit County Clean Water Program to reduce fecal coliform and other contaminants in surface waters, with the aim of protecting marine life and the marine environment;
  • Initiated a far-reaching and progressive program to eliminate the deleterious effects of sewage runoff on salmon habitat.

The Skagit River is a regional treasure. Producing a third of Puget Sound’s fresh water and home to a third of its threatened wild Chinook salmon, the Skagit River is a natural resource important to both the state and the nation. Skagit County and its citizens are committed to protecting and restoring salmon runs on the Skagit through aggressive habitat acquisition. But Skagit County’s small property taxpayer base puts severe constraints on the funding available for the task. It is imperative that state, federal, tribal, and private entities interested in seeing the recovery of Skagit River salmon begin ramping up their financial contribution to habitat acquisition, a time-limited endeavor given the increasing intensity of development pressure we face in the Skagit Valley. Because lands that are best for salmon habitat are most often those worst for people given the increasingly-negative effects of climate change, we believe this strategy makes sense for humans and fish alike.

Download Skagit County 2007 Salmon Action Report (2.6MB pdf)