Losing shoreline salmon habitat much faster than can be restored

Between 2005 and 2014 almost three miles of nearshore salmon habitat was damaged in the Squaxin Island Tribe’s area of interest.

It’s one of the many specific findings in the recently released State of Our Watersheds Report. The report from the 20 treaty Indian tribes in western Washington documents the ongoing loss and degradation of salmon habitat.

Shoreline armoring, such as bulkheads and riprap, degrades salmon habitat. The red bar in this chart shows how much habitat was armored during the nine-year period compared to the modifications removed to restore shoreline habitat.

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From the report:

From 2005-2014 in Pierce, Mason and Thurston counties, 547 Hydraulic Project Approvals (HPAs) were issued resulting in an additional 3.3 miles of new armored shoreline; only 0.4 miles of armoring were removed.


. . .


Almost 54% of the marine shoreline segments in the Squaxin Island Tribe’s Area of Focus contain some type of modification such as bulkheads, riprap or other human-made structures. Thurston County’s shoreline is among the most extensively armored in Puget Sound. Between 1984 and 2002, over 25,000 feet of new bulkheads had been added in Thurston County.


HPAs issued by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) are required for in-water and shoreline construction activities in Washington state, including shoreline armoring. To identify recent trends in the rate, extent and location of shoreline armoring in Puget Sound, WDFW reviewed all shoreline armoring HPAs in Puget Sound between January 2005 and December 2014. The trend in shoreline armoring in Puget Sound is an important indicator of ecological condition and is used by the Puget Sound Partnership as one of several indicators of the general health of Puget Sound.

The primary reason for the decline of salmon runs in western Washington is the decline of habitat. Despite federal Endangered Species Act listings starting in 1999 and millions of dollars spent on planning and restoration, state and local agencies are still permitting the destruction of salmon habitat.

Learn more about the 2016 State of Our Watersheds report.