On May 17, the County’s Lead Entity for Salmon Recovery presented a day highlighting the protection and recovery efforts of the habitats critical to salmon survival. The Lead Entity produced the event, which included a Kids’ Camp, displays by the San Juan Nature Institute, People for Puget Sound and Friends of the San Juans among others, and luncheon and field trips, was funded by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and federal and state salmon recovery money. Walking and boat tours of the estuary rounded out the day. About 45 people attended the event were some of the groups that displayed at the event in the Deer Harbor Community Clubhouse.
Lead Entities coordinate between local government and the public to facilitate salmon recovery efforts and guide restoration projects.
On Orcas Island, the County’s Lead Entity, coordinated by Barbara Rosenkotter, assists with the restoration of the Deer Harbor estuary, a multi-faceted project. The agency also oversaw the restoration of the derelict intertidal pool in Deer Harbor, and is undertaking other projects with the goal of salmon recovery.
Billy Frank, Jr., of the Nisqually Indian Tribe was keynote speaker. Rosenkotter said that Frank outlined the health of river systems from the Yukon River in Alaska south to the Sacramento River in California, identifying the developments that have had major negative impacts on the salmon population, from oil spills such as the Exxon Valdez in 1989, and from over-fishing.
Frank identified a “Dead Zone” – a 300-mile stretch from Florence, Ore. to Kalaloch, Wash. where fish and crab had washed ashore, and a second Dead Zone along the Hood Canal.
Rosenkotter echoed Franks’ sentiments, saying “We need to be a voice for our local natural resources.”
The local salmon recovery strategies advanced by the Lead Entity include education in creating a stewardship ethic and in lobbying local legislators. While major threats are identified as loss of eelgrass, and development that degrades water quality, Rosenkotter spoke of the “Death of a 1,000 cuts” – the primary impact from individual actions, one by one, that degrade the habitat.
The Marine Stewardship Area plan calls for the fostering a marine stewardship ethic, management of upland and nearshore activities, reduction of the harvest and bycatch of selected species such as rockfish and greenling, reduction of toxins and oil spills, and the preservation and management of public access.
For more information on the Lead Entity and salmon recovery efforts go to www. sjcmrc.org.