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Meet the Salmon

Chum, coho and pink salmon, steelhead and cutthroat trout regularly use streams in East Kitsap. Most of the chinook that use East Kitsap streams are from the Suquamish Tribe hatchery program or from Minter Creek Hatchery, White River Hatchery and other hatcheries. During years of strong salmon runs in Puget Sound, wild chinook are likely to stray into the streams. The Suquamish Tribe marks all hatchery chinook to identify them in their outmigration studies and estuarine and nearshore beach seining studies. Threatened chinook populations from south and central Puget Sound watersheds are believed to use the nearshore habitat for refuge, resting and feeding on the way to and from the ocean.

Chum Salmon
Pink Salmon
Salmon images courtesy of King County. Steelhead image courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Department of Commerce.


Salmon and the East Kitsap Region



For more information about salmon recovery planning in this watershed, visit:

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Key Facts

East Kitsap is 89% privately-owned. Land type is 53% forest; 33% water (primarily marine); 8% urban; 3% agriculture and 3% other.

Major cities in East Kitsap include Bremerton, Gig Harbor, Port Orchard, Poulsbo, and Bainbridge Island.

East Kitsap’s population is expected to grow by 54 percent between 2000 and 2020.

The planning area for the watershed under the state Watershed Management Act is Watershed Resource Inventory Area (WRIA) 15.


Kitsap’s sinuous shorelines form Key Peninsula, Gig Harbor Peninsula, the South Puget Sound Islands including Anderson, Fox and McNeil Islands, and Bainbridge Island. East Kitsap also harbors countless small streams that empty into the marine waters of Puget Sound along the eastern flank of the Kitsap Peninsula. Quiet and easy-paced compared to the cities of Tacoma and Seattle less than 20 nautical miles away, small-scale and hobby farms still dot the landscape in Kitsap, helping to maintain the area’s rural heritage.

The Kitsap Peninsula is 400 square miles in size, surrounded by 360 miles of saltwater shoreline. Because water access was the only way early settlers could reach the Peninsula, nearly every community in Kitsap has a water view, marina or stretch of beach to enjoy.

East Kitsap’s shorelines account for nearly half of the nearshore habitat in south and central Puget Sound and provide vital habitat for threatened chinook and bull trout populations from watersheds throughout those areas. Nearshore habitat provides refuge, resting and feeding grounds for juveniles heading out to the ocean and to adults returning to spawn.

Major Policy or Actions Needed to Recover Salmon

Nearshore Protection Key for Threatened Chinook
East Kitsap is second to the San Juan Islands for total length of marine nearshore. Marine intertidal, nearshore, and sub-tidal areas provide critical habitat for salmon, particularly for juvenile smolts as they migrate from freshwater systems in south and central Puget Sound watersheds to the ocean. Shallow nearshore areas are known to provide rearing habitat and shallow-water migration corridors that offer protection from predators. Two assessments (the draft Bainbridge Island Nearshore Assessment and the 2003 Key Peninsula, Gig Harbor and Islands Watershed Nearshore Salmon Habitat Assessment) have methodologies in place to prioritize nearshore habitat for protection and restoration in their respective areas.

Fisheries Enhancement to Ease Pressure on Wild Populations
Due to low gradients, an abundance of wetlands and relatively limited development, East Kitsap’s 125 identified streams harbor a rich potential to support salmon enhancement efforts using local brood stocks. The Suquamish Tribe’s Hatchery programs are aimed at maintaining treaty fishing rights and easing pressure on wild salmon populations, including wild runs of chum salmon on Chico Creek, East Kitsap’s most intact and naturally productive stream.

Continuing to Build on Cooperative Relationships Between Suquamish Tribe, the County, the Cities and Private Landowners Will Make All the Difference
East Kitsap has a strong history of building partnerships to forge collaborative solutions on a variety of natural resource issues such as stormwater management as well as numerous salmon habitat protection and restoration projects. To contribute to the recovery of threatened chinook, policy decision-makers must continue to build bridges with private property rights advocates, provide landowner incentives for habitat protection and restoration on private lands (especially related to shorelines), and continuously search for solutions that balance the needs of both fish and people.


We’re Making Progress—Some Accomplishments

Innovative Growth Management
The Chico Watershed Planning Project in 2002 created an innovative process among local landowners and citizens, local, state and federal government representatives and Tribes to develop a preferred scenario for future development in the Chico Creek Watershed. Importantly, the preferred scenario can be directly linked to broader planning under the state Growth Management Act. Kitsap County intends to replicate the collaborative Chico Creek Watershed process in other watersheds in the County.

Strategic Approach to Address Fish Barriers
Culverts, screens and other mostly human-made barriers to spawning and rearing grounds are a leading cause of salmon declines in East Kitsap. Recovery efforts prioritize fish passage restoration actions in streams identified as having the most high-quality habitat and productive capacity. Kitsap Conservation District will soon complete an inventory of privately-owned passage barriers.

Gorst Creek Restoration
To support a hatchery project on Gorst aimed at easing fishing pressure on wild salmon, the City of Bremerton’s Gorst Creek Restoration Project replaced a 750-foot segment of concrete channel with 1000 feet of a meandering streambed that replicates a more natural stream system. The project also placed gravel, large woody debris and native plantings along 1.5 miles of stream. A related SRFB project is restoring 1,200 feet of shoreline, adding 23, 271 square feet of intertidal area, 2.5 acres of estuary of the Sinclair Inlet to a “vintage 1942” natural wetland/estuarine condition intended to benefit salmon and wildlife.

Organizations Involved

  • City of Bainbridge Island
  • Chums of Barker Creek
  • Great Peninsula Conservancy
  • Kitsap County Conservation District
  • Kitsap County Health District
  • Kitsap Public Utility District
  • Kitsap County Natural Resource Conservation Service
  • Kitsap County Solid Waste Division
  • Kitsap County Surface & Stormwater Management
  • Kitsap Peninsula Watershed Planning
  • Poulsbo Marine Science Center
  • Suquamish Tribe
  • University of Washington Sea Grant Program
  • Washington State Department of Fish & Wildlife
  • Washington State Puget Sound Water Quality Action Team
  • Washington State University Cooperative Extension
  • West Sound Conservation Council
  • Pierce County Water Programs


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