Western Washington tribes are launching an ambitious, coordinated, long-term effort to identify and restore key salmon habitats as well as gauge land-use decisions in the region.
Called “gw?dzadad” (gwa-za-did) or “teachings of our ancestors” in Lushootseed, the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission rolled out its Tribal Habitat Strategy today.
“The effort is based on what we know is actually needed to achieve ecosystem health, not what we think is possible to achieve given current habitat conditions. It is not a retreat to the past, but a long-term vision for a future with healthy resources for everyone,” writes Lorraine Loomis, NWIFC chair, in her monthly Being Frank column.
A 12-page PDF outlines the plan’s overall tasks and key goals, and makes recommendations for the Pacific, Puget Sound and other inland waters, floodplains and riparian areas, and water quality.
It builds on two previous projects, 2011’s Treaty Rights at Risk Initiative that took to task the federal government, and the State of our Watersheds reports, which found salmon habitat is being lost faster than it’s being replaced.
Calling for a “change in the way we do business,” an NWIFC story map says that the ultimate goal is to reverse the loss of that habitat.
The strategy aims to “(use) data to hold landowners, developers and regulators responsible for the habitat needed to recover salmon and meet tribal treaty obligations.”
Loomis says that recovering Chinook, coho, steelhead and other stocks will take all of the region’s residents.
“That is why we are also building a coalition of sport and commercial fishermen, conservation groups and others to collaborate on solving our shared concerns about the future of salmon,” she writes.