Salmon and the South Sound Recovery Planning Group
more information about salmon recovery planning
in this watershed, click here.
to read this watershed's feedback summary.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
Making Progress—Some Accomplishments
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.
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
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.
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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