You can help salmon by picking up trash on a local beach and by joining us in advocating for policies in the Washington state legislature.
Salmon play a key role in our economy and are the cornerstone of our local ecosystem, which supports us all. These amazing creatures are also critical to the health and well-being of Coast Salish peoples, who stewarded these lands and waters for generations and continue to do so today.
Each summer and fall, in an average year, Cedar River Salmon Journey volunteers are stationed at sites where they can help you observe and learn about salmon. But right now, in February, we can’t easily see salmon. Adult spawners that returned in the fall have died and their offspring, which are currently developing and rearing in our local streams and rivers, may be too small for us to see. While this might be a quiet season for the Cedar River Salmon Journey program, it’s still a critical time for supporting this Northwest icon. The Governor's biennial report on the state of salmon, released in December, underscored that many salmon species are precariously close to extinction.
What can we do?
The Seattle Aquarium is currently working with partners to pass policies and secure funding in the 2021 Washington state legislative session to support salmon recovery. Among other urgent needs, the Governor's biennial report calls for Net Ecological Gain standards to buffer against growing development pressures.
House Bill 1117, being championed by Rep. Debra Lekanoff right now in the Washington State Legislature, would be an important first step in that process. This bill will help ensure that future development, redevelopment and population growth are compatible with salmon recovery. It will do that by applying a Net Ecological Gain standard and including salmon in front-end planning under the growth management act. Net Ecological Gain essentially means leaving the environment better than we found it—new developments covered by this bill wouldn’t stop at trying to make up for damages they cause, but actually increase the amount of habitat restored.
We also need to significantly increase funding for salmon recovery programs, as well as funding for scientific monitoring so we know more about trends and how well recovery programs are working. Only 22% of the funding needed by 2020 to implement habitat work in regional salmon recovery plans was secured and invested. We must scale that up now, even in these unprecedented times; funding spent on watershed restoration results in increased economic activity and protects livelihoods and human health.
Join us in taking action!
Please contact your legislators now and through March to urge them to prioritize salmon recovery by:
- Voting in support of HB 1117.
- Supporting significant increases in funding for salmon recovery programs.
Visit the Washington State Legislature website to find your legislators’ email addresses or call the toll-free legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000 between 8am and 7pm, Monday to Friday to leave a message for all three of your legislators at once.
Read on if you’d like some additional tips for contacting your legislators:
- Introduce yourself as a constituent (if contacting legislators from the district where you live).
- Acknowledge the current reality of the pandemic and emphasize the timely importance of this multi-benefit work. For example, investing in multi-benefit restoration projects protects not only salmon habitat, but also improves water quality, reduces flood hazards, improves stormwater management, increases climate resilience and supports local economies.
- Mention specific bill numbers (in this case, HB 1117).
- Make it personal by telling them why salmon recovery matters to you.
- Thank them for their consideration and their commitment to salmon recovery.