Shared Strategy for Puget Sound
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Salmon Recovery Plan
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Meet the Salmon

The watershed supports populations of threatened Issaquah Creek and Cedar River summer and fall Chinook, and threatened Chester Morse bull trout. The watershed is also home to Coho and sockeye salmon, winter steelhead, rainbow and coastal cutthroat trout, Issaquah Creek summer Kokanee, and late run Lake Sammamish Kokanee.

Bull Trout
Salmon images courtesy of King County. Steelhead image courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Department of Commerce.
How Chinook Use the Watershed

The Cedar River, Bear Creek and Issaquah Creek, along with their smaller tributaries, are the major salmon-bearing streams within the Lake Washington watershed. Upon emerging from the gravel, some Chinook fry remain in fresh water for about 3-6 months, feeding on stream and terrestrial insects. Some fry may reside in Lake Washington for 2-3 years. Smolts migrate downstream to Puget Sound via the Ballard locks where they feed and grow for several weeks to over a year before heading northward to the Gulf of Alaska.

Lake Washington/Cedar/Sammamish Watershed



For more information about salmon recovery planning in this watershed, click here.

Click here to read this watershed's feedback summary.


Key Facts

The watershed contains the Cedar and Sammamish Rivers, and two large lakes: Lake Washington and Lake Sammamish.

The most populous watershed in the state, it is located mainly in King County, with about 15% extending northward into Snohomish County.

The planning area for the watershed under the state Watershed Management Act is Watershed Resource Inventory Area (WRIA) 8.


Major Policy or Actions Needed to Recover Salmon

  • Protect and enhance forest cover, water quality (particularly from sedimentation and road runoff), headwater areas, instream flows, wetlands, sources of cold water and riparian vegetation. Minimize impervious surfaces and road crossings.
  • Find increased funding.
  • Revise critical areas ordinances, stormwater programs, Shoreline Master Programs, groundwater management plans and other existing tools to achieve these actions, along with acquisitions, incentives, public outreach, and education.
  • Maintain current urban growth boundary to protect rural habitat areas.
  • Promote low impact development in urban and rural areas to accommodate new population, while increasing infiltration and improving flows.
  • Enforce existing and new policies and regulations consistently.

The following actions are key to supporting salmon recovery:

  • Cedar River Mainstem: Protect best remaining habitat. Setback or remove levees, add large woody debris to create pools and plant riparian vegetation to restore sources of large woody debris.
  • Bear Creek & Cold/Cottage Creek: Protect best remaining habitat and sources of cold water to maintain temperature regime. Reduce sedimentation, channel confinement and add large woody debris to create pools.
  • Issaquah Creek: Protect best remaining habitat.

Priority actions recommended for Migratory and Rearing Corridors include:

  • Lake Washington: Remove bank hardening, restore shallow water habitats, plant over-hanging riparian vegetation and restore or enhance small tributary mouths (particularly in South Lake Washington).
  • Sammamish River: Increase habitat diversity and reduce temperatures by restoring channel meanders, reconnecting sources of groundwater, side channels, wetland habitat, and enhancing sources of cooler water in reaches nearest Lake Sammamish. Restore setback levees, plant riparian vegetation and add large woody debris in reaches nearest Lake Washington.
  • Ship Canal/Locks: Restore shallow-water migratory habitats, plant riparian vegetation, and investigate ways to reduce temperatures.
  • Nearshore/Estuary: Protect remaining feeder bluffs that supply sediment and restore sediment sources; enhance stream mouths to create pocket estuaries; protect and restore marine riparian vegetation; and reconnect wetlands and backshore areas.
  • Lake Sammamish: Remove bank hardening, restore shallow water habitats, plant over-hanging riparian vegetation and restore or enhance small tributary mouths.


We’re Making Progress—Some Accomplishments

Twenty-seven local governments have been working together and cost-sharing a major planning effort to support Chinook recovery in the watershed.

The new fish ladder at Landsburg Dam offers access to an additional 12 miles of high quality Chinook habitat.

Fish passage improvements at the Hiram Chittenden Locks have vastly increased survival rates of migrating salmon.

Hundreds of acres of habitat have been protected through Bear Creek Waterways, Issaquah Waterways, and Cedar River Legacy.

Low impact development demonstration projects underway in King and Snohomish Counties will provide valuable information on science, marketing, costs, and public response.

Basin stewards work with community groups and private landowners to foster a culture of stewardship.

Organizations Involved

  • Town of Beaux Arts Village
  • City of Bellevue
  • City of Bothell
  • City of Clyde Hill
  • City of Edmonds
  • Town of Hunts Point
  • City of Issaquah
  • City of Kenmore
  • City of Kent
  • King County
  • City of Kirkland
  • City of Lake Forest Park
  • City of Maple Valley
  • City of Medina
  • City of Mercer Island
  • City of Mill Creek
  • City of Mountlake Terrace
  • City of Mukilteo
  • City of Newcastle
  • City of Redmond
  • City of Renton
  • City of Sammamish
  • City of Seattle
  • City of Shoreline
  • Snohomish County
  • City of Woodinville
  • Town of Yarrow Point

Also includes citizens, scientists, and representatives from key business and community groups, state agencies, and the Army Corps of Engineers.


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