Between 2006 and 2011 forest cover in deep South Sound declined by over 18,000 acres. This means that in the Squaxin Island Tribe’s area of interest, we lost a forest larger than the city of Olympia (only about 12,000 acres).
This is according to the State of Our Watersheds report by the treaty tribes in western Washington.
Timber harvest, agriculture, and residential and commercial development have substantially altered salmonid habitat throughout South Puget Sound. In the Puget Sound region, forestlands are giving way to cities and urbanized areas at a fairly rapid rate. Research shows that as development increases, impacts to streams and stream health tend to progress. Studies have also shown that watersheds with high forest cover are less likely to have degraded stream health. Data from NOAA-CCAP shows that during the 2006-2011 timeframe there was an increase of 2,570 acres (4%) in developed land and a loss of 18,026 acres (6%) in forest cover.
This decline happened even though tribes and tribal partners have been working to restore and protect natural resources throughout the region. Also, the years tracked in the report saw a decline in economic growth, but habitat destruction continued.