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Recovery close for Hood Canal chum salmon

Shelton-Mason County Journal of Shelton, Washington

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State releases data on its extinction-prevention efforts

Almost half of the 15 salmon species in Washington are increasing, with Hood Canal summer chum near its recovery goal, according to a report released by the Governor's Salmon Recovery Office.

The new State of Salmon in Watersheds Executive Summary shows the state's progress in trying to recover the 15 species declared as at risk of extinction by the federal government and listed under the Endangered Species Act.

Of the 15 salmon species, two are near their recovery goal: Hood Canal summer chum and Snake River fall chinook.

That's good news for the employees at the Pacific Northwest Salmon Center in Belfair, said Mendy Harlow, the center's executive director.

"It's a product of all the good work we're doing with our partners," she said.

The center's goal is to get Hood Canal summer chum off the Endangered Species list, Harlow said.

"Since 1990, we've been doing habitat restoration projects with that in mind," she said.

"Washington State has been investing in salmon recovery for more than a decade, and we are starting to see some results," said Kaleen Cotting-ham, director of the state Recreation and Conservation Office, home of the Governor's Salmon Recovery Office, in a news release. "That's heartening. But we also see that we have a long way to go until all salmon species are healthy enough to be removed from the endangered species list."

In the report, four salmon species are listed as increasing: Middle Columbia River steelhead, Lake Ozette sockeye, Snake River spring and summer chi-nook, and Upper Columbia River steelhead. Listed as consistently low are Lower Columbia River fall chinook, Lower Columbia River spring chinook, Lower Columbia River steelhead and Snake River steelhead.

Four salmon populations are decreasing: Lower Columbia River chum, Puget Sound chinook, Puget Sound steelhead and Upper Columbia River spring chinook. The data was insufficient on the Lower Columbia River coho.

The report also states that measurements of the amount of water in streams and rivers show that the majority of the monitoring stations have stable or increasing flows, which helps salmon thrive by keeping the water cool. The report also concludes that 75 percent of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife's hatchery programs meet or are expected to meet scientific standards to ensure conservation of wild salmon and steelhead, compared with only 18 percent of hatcheries meeting those standards in 1998.

But the report also states that shoreline armoring in Puget Sound, through bulkheads and riprap, is increasing by about a mile a year. Shoreline armoring is the practice of using physical structures to protect shorelines from coastal erosion.

In response to the federal Endangered Species Act that listed summer chum as salmon, the Hood Canal Coordinating Council developed and completed the Hood Canal and Eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca Chum Salmon Recovery Plan in November 2005.

The plan was accepted by then-Gov. Christine Gre-goire and the state in April 2002 and adopted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Fisheries in May 2007.

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Original Publication Date: March 12, 2015

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