Shared Strategy for Puget Sound
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Meet the Salmon

Threatened Chinook and bull trout populations from the Nisqually, Puyallup/White and other watersheds use the shorezones of Southern Puget Sound. In addition, it is home to numerous non-listed species of salmon. Kennedy-Goldsborough is home to chum and coho salmon, winter steelhead and coastal cutthroat trout. The Deschutes supports chum salmon and winter steelhead. Pink and sockeye salmon are observed infrequently and are believed to be strays from populations outside of the watershed. Chinook and coho salmon were introduced to the Deschutes in the late 50s.

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


Salmon and the South Sound Recovery Planning Group



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

Click here to read this watershed's feedback summary.


Key Facts

The Deschutes watershed is located in Thurston County, with a small portion in Lewis County; major cities in the watershed include Olympia, Tumwater and Lacey. Kennedy-Goldsborough is located 85% in Mason County and 15% in Thurston County; major cities include Shelton.

Land use in Kennedy-Goldsborough is primarily forest (71%) with urban and agricultural use accounting for 4% each. Land use in the Deschutes is 54% forested, 39% non-forested vegetation, 16% agricultural and 5% urban.

Projected population growth is 51% for Thurston County and 41% for Mason County.

The Nisqually watershed is an important river system in this area and has its own fact sheet.

The planning areas for the South Sound is under the state Watershed Management Act are Watershed Resource Inventory Areas (WRIA)’s 13 and 14. The nearshore of the Nisqually is in WRIA 11. A portion of Pierce County is also included in the nearshore area covered by the salmon recovery planning group.


For the purposes of recovery planning for threatened chinook, “South Sound” is defined as that area of Puget Sound south of the Tacoma Narrows that includes the marine, nearshore, estuaries, and freshwater environments. The main river system that empties into the southern part of Puget Sound is the Nisqually (click here for more on Salmon and the Nisqually River).

The region is also home to the Deschutes and the Kennedy-Goldsborough, as well as smaller, independent tributaries which flow from lowlands in the area and help create South Sound’s distinctive and irregular coastline of small, shallow inlets including Hammersely, Little Skookum and Totten Inlets as well as portions of Eld and Case Inlets.

Residential neighborhoods bordered by second-growth forest range along Totten and Little Skookum inlets, and the shorezone is rich in shellfish resources. In 1993 citizens took a bold step, creating the state's first clean water district which provides the financial resources to improve water quality and protect public health.

Eld Inlet boasts a salt marsh, forested shorelines and a local stream, supporting salmon in every part of their life cycle. Hammersely is the skinniest of major Puget Sound inlets and a popular kayaking destination—if you time the currents right you can make a fairly easy round trip, stopping for a snack or to enjoy the views while waiting for the tide to change.

Major Policy or Actions Needed to Recover Salmon

Nearshore and Estuary Protection and Restoration
The nearshore areas in this part of Puget Sound offer important habitat for threatened Chinook and bull trout populations from the Nisqually, Puyallup/White and other watersheds. Nearshore habitat offers refuge, rest and feeding opportunities for juvenile salmon before they embark on their ocean migrations. Thus, the South Sound salmon recovery planning area includes the Puget Sound south of the Tacoma Narrows. The nearshore environment is a major early focus for the multi-species planning group as it determines a recovery approach for listed chinook within the South Sound marine, nearshore and estuarine environments.

Shoreline Protection and Restoration
Between 1977 and 1992 shoreline armoring, including construction of bulkheads, doubled in Thurston County where the Deschutes is primarily located. Shoreline armoring blocks natural beach formation which provides habitat needed to support prey species favored by salmon. In the Kennedy-Goldsborough watershed urban development has boosted fine sediment levels and destabilized banks. The Squaxin Island and Nisqually Tribes, the Thurston Conservation District, local governments and community groups are working together to create an inventory of shoreline conditions that will guide further decision making and action to protect and restore habitat. Pierce County has recently completed the Key Peninsula, Gig Harbor, and Islands Watershed Nearshore Salmon Habitat Assessment, which presents the results of an assessment of approximately 179 miles of marine shoreline in western Pierce County.

Salmon Passage Barriers
Of 300 culverts identified in freshwater salmon habitats in Kennedy-Goldsborough, only five percent were found to be passable to fish and half were found to completely block passage. Passage issues also persist in the Deschutes and in smaller streams in the region. Keys to propel progress involve continuing to work with forest and other private landowners, involving local citizens and volunteers, and securing available funding.


We’re Making Progress—Some Accomplishments

Protecting a Pristine Inlet
With support from the Squaxin Island Tribe and Cascade Land Conservancy, the Capitol Land Trust is protecting and enhancing 25 acres of habitat in Eld Inlet through a land acquisition and a conservation easement. This represents a commitment to protect one of the most pristine environments left in Southern Puget Sound.

Restoring Passage
Completed in the summer of 2001, the removal of Goldsborough Dam resulted from a public-private partnership among Simpson Timber Company, the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, with technical assistance from the Squaxin Island Tribe. The project opened up 26 miles of prime spawning and rearing habitat. State biologists estimate the stream will support thousands more coho, chum, steelhead and cutthroat trout.

Fish Passage Inventories Completed
The South Sound Salmon Enhancement Group (SPSSEG) has completed fish passage inventories for WRIA’s 13 and 14. The inventories provided a comprehensive survey of all in-stream structures (culverts, dams, fishways, etc.) on public and private lands. SPSSEG used the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (WDFW) Fish Passage criteria to determine barrier status. These inventories are the basis for prioritization of fish passage barrier removal projects. In addition, the Pierce Conservation District has completed a barrier inventory for the Key Peninsula area.

Organizations Involved

The South Puget Sound Salmon Recovery Plan is a cooperative planning effort by state, tribes, local governments, and salmon recovery groups to develop a long-term plan for the recovery and support of salmon in South Puget Sound.


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