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Draft plan released to restore Chehalis River basin habitat

According to a release from the WDFW, during the past 30 years, salmon runs have declined 80% in southwest Washington’s Chehalis River basin due to habitat degradation, development, and climate change. 

They say that by the end of the century, the basin’s spring chinook salmon could become functionally extinct, with fish numbers dropping too low to sustain the population.

But scientists, researchers, and technical experts have developed a draft aquatic species restoration plan designed to protect and restore salmon and other native aquatic species in the Chehalis basin’s 3,400 miles of perennial streams and rivers.

The science-based draft restoration plan—with the voluntary cooperation of willing landowners—identifies potential actions that offer the best chance to:

  • Support healthy, harvestable salmon populations.
  • Build robust, diverse populations of other native fish and aquatic species.
  • Foster productive ecosystems more resilient to climate change and human-caused stressors.

The public is invited to review and comment on the draft restoration plan now through Jan. 14, 2020.

Emelie McKain of the WDFW says “The Chehalis basin is one of the state’s only major river systems with no salmon species listed as threatened or endangered,” 

She adds, “We want to keep it that way by restoring and protecting their habitat.”

The WDFW says that the draft restoration plan, with the voluntary cooperation of willing landowners, identifies potential actions that offer the best chance to support healthy, harvestable salmon populations, build robust, diverse populations of other native fish and aquatic species, and foster productive ecosystems more resilient to climate change and human-caused stressors.

The team and the Chehalis Basin Board will use public comments to inform future phases of the plan’s development and implementation.

More information about the Chehalis Basin Strategy is available at https://ecology.wa.gov/About-us/Get-to-know-us/Our-Programs/Office-of-Chehalis-Basin/Strategy.

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