Pierce County works with many partners including other local governments, state, federal, and tribal stakeholders and non-profit organizations to protect and enhance wild salmon populations. Chinook, Sockeye, Coho, Chum and Pink salmon, as well as Steelhead, cutthroat and Bull Trout all call Pierce County’s rivers and streams home. For generations, salmon have been an important part of this area’s culture and economy. It is the job of everyone living and working in Pierce County to help protect these special fish for future generations to help ensure that they also have the quality of life that we currently enjoy.
Lead entities are local, watershed-based organizations created by RCW 77.85 to solicit, develop, prioritize and submit habitat protection and restoration projects for funding by the state's Salmon Recovery Funding Board (SRFB).
The water resource inventory areas (WRIAs) 10 and 12 are also called the Chambers-Clover Creeks and Puyallup River watersheds. Both WRIAs are included in one lead-entity. The lead entity has developed a strategy to recover salmon in these watersheds. The strategy guides the ranking of salmon recovery project proposals and can be found in the Resource Library below.
At a regional scale, there is a Salmon Recovery Plan with individual chapters for each watershed (in most cases). You can find more information about recovery plans fromPuget Sound Partnership.
In 1999, Pierce County, the Puyallup Tribe, the Pierce Conservation District and others signed letters of agreement for Surface Water Management (SWM) to coordinate with partners to identify and prioritize projects to restore salmon habitat. This is the process the legislature created in HB 2496, or the Salmon Recovery Act. Those projects are submitted to the Salmon Recovery Funding Board for state grants.
The Pierce County Lead Entity committee, staffed by SWM, is comprised of county, tribal, conservation district, citizens and state agency staff. It has been extremely successful in getting funds to build projects that improve salmon habitat in the Puyallup, Carbon and White rivers, as well as South Prairie, Chambers and Clover creeks and important tributaries in both watersheds. Many of these projects have also reduced flood hazards by removing flood prone houses and structures and building setback levees that create habitat and protect upland properties.
The lead entity participates in salmon recovery planning both locally and regionally. Our salmon habitat and protection strategy helps guide the ranking of projects for the Salmon Recovery Fund / Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration grant rounds. Our involvement covers one of the 4 “H” ’s of salmon recovery, Habitat. The other “H”’s are harvest and hatchery which are managed by the tribes and Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, and hydropower. Since 2000, the majority of our large river projects in the Puyallup/White Watershed have been partly funded through the salmon recovery funds, and more recently Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration funds, including Soldiers Home Setback Levee, projects on South Prairie Creek, the Carbon and White Rivers, as well as acquisitions of flood prone properties on the Puyallup River, and most recently, Orting’s Calistoga Setback Levee. In addition to flood control projects, projects and programs that improve water quality are also a benefit to salmon.
We also strive to share our passion and spread the word about the importance of salmon and the link between healthy salmon runs and the great quality of life afforded by the wonderful natural resources in our area.
It seems like we are always planning the next SRFB/PSAR grant round for WRIA's 10 and 12. We also run the King County Cooperative Watershed Management Grant rounds for the King County portion of WRIA 10. The grant rounds generally begin in early spring when we wrap up refinements to our process and strategy, this is when we can add official members to our citizens committee. Public participation is always welcome at our meetings.