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Pitship Pocket Estuary Restoration Project before (above) and after (below).

Photo credits: North Olympic Salmon Coalition

The Northwest Region

The coastal habitats of the Northwest Region, including coastal wetlands, shellfish beds, and salmon-bearing streams, are as diverse as the fisheries they support. But they also face challenges from development, erosion, fish passage barriers, and pollution. Since 1996, the NOAA Restoration Center has supported nearly 500 community restoration projects in the Northwest Region, benefiting more than 4,500 acres of estuarine and riparian habitat and opening approximately 800 miles of in-stream salmon habitat.

What We Do

In Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, 27 populations of salmonids are listed as threatened or endangered as a result of habitat loss and over harvesting. Nearly half of historic tidal wetlands have disappeared from Oregon’s coastal estuaries; in Puget Sound, Washington more than 80 percent of tidal wetlands have been lost and vast areas of floodplain wetlands have been cut off from rivers by levees or filled for development. We work with our partners to reconnect these marshes and floodplains to tidal flow. We also restore spawning and rearing habitats for fish and improve fish passage by removing dams or replacing undersized culverts.

Partnership Case Study—Estuary and Salmon Restoration Program

Puget Sound is the nation’s second largest estuary, with approximately 2,500 miles of shoreline, more than 800 unique coastal bays and inlets, 16 major river deltas, and countless small tributaries. Following more than a century of development and other human impacts, ten fish species are now listed as threatened or endangered in Puget Sound. Habitat restoration is needed to recover these species and restore the natural resources that sustain them.

NOAA’s partnership with the state of Washington’s Estuary and Salmon Restoration Program implemented 12 restoration projects in Puget Sound, including levee removals, tidal reconnections, and estuary restoration. A total of 1,119 acres of tidal wetlands were restored. These projects are benefiting salmon, steelhead, cutthroat trout, and forage fish. They are also improving conditions for the shellfish, shorebirds, and marine mammals that are dependent on healthy, functioning habitat.

At the Pitship Pocket Estuary, we removed a fish passage barrier to a “pocket estuary” (small sub-estuary) in a critical area for summer chum migration. NOAA staff assisted with permitting and in developing a monitoring protocol, as well as reviewing technical aspects of project development.

In addition to these on-the-ground efforts, NOAA’s technical assistance resulted in improved grants management, data sharing tools, and strategic monitoring actions to address uncertainties in restoration. This assistance is providing lasting value to the state’s ongoing restoration efforts, and will ensure continued protection and restoration into the future.

Northwest Region Funding Listserv

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