Pacific salmon species vary in many respects, but the basic features of their life cycles are similar: Young salmon emerge in streams and rivers, and then eventually make their way to the sea. As adults, they return to their natal freshwaters to spawn and die. In death, they continue to form a vital part of forest ecosystems, providing a bounty of nutrients to animals, insects, and even plants.
Removing barriers and designing culverts to facilitate salmon migration is a key part of salmon recovery efforts. As of 2016, 7,300 fish-blocking barriers were removed in Washington, restoring almost 5,100 miles of historic fish habitat. The goal is to eliminate 100% of the barriers by 2021.
Private Foresters Doing Their Part to Recover Salmon Population
While forestry is not noted as a major cause in the decline of our wild salmon, private foresters are doing their part to help bring the salmon population back by providing better habitat, food, and creating the cool, clean water that salmon need to thrive. They have played an active role in the creation of the Forests & Fish Law which is the basis of Washington Forest Practices Habitat Conservation Plan. These policies have been put in place to require foresters to follow strict guidelines to safeguard the water quality of Washington’s streams and rivers. In addition, new forest practices for forest road and culverts, buffer zones, and unstable slopes have been implemented as part of the overall strategy to recover salmon population levels.
FROGS, SALAMANDERS DOMINATE AMPHIBIAN POPULATION
Twenty-six species of amphibians live in Washington.
Twenty-six species of amphibians from salamanders to frogs live in Washington State. Many of these amphibians are unique to the Pacific Northwest. Because amphibians require both land and water habitat to live, Washington’s streams and rivers are vital for their existence. Therefore, private foresters, following the Forests & Fish Law, are doing their part to protect buffer zones surrounding streams to deliver the ecological function and valuable habitat needed for amphibians. The shade provided by the buffers keeps stream temperatures cool, as well as the filtering of sediment by riparian vegetation surrounding a stream are two of the objectives of private forest landowners to protect the amphibian habitat.
The Columbia Torrent Salamander is the Focus of Scientific Study
Most of the 14 species of salamanders that are found in Washington are highly specialized for living in the cold, clean streams of Pacific Northwest forests. One salamander unique to our region is the Columbia torrent salamander. Columbia torrent salamanders are approximately 3-4 inches long from snout to tail. They tend to be brown or green on their back, with a yellowish underbelly. They can be found in the marine climate of the Coast Range in Southwestern Washington and Northwestern Oregon in headwater streams. The Columbia torrent salamander is currently under consideration for listing under the Endangered Species Act in Washington State. Scientific research is being conducted to uncover areas determined to be favorable for this salamander species so that protection can be better focused within and beyond the buffer zone.
The Common Treefrog Requires Several Types of Habitat to Survive
The Pacific treefrog is the smallest but most commonly seen and heard frog in Washington. In the more moist areas of the state, the treefrog and red-legged frog are prominent, while in dry areas the spotted frog is more common. For adult Pacific treefrogs to survive, they need different types of habitat. In breeding season from February through July, treefrogs live in ponds, swamps, and roadside ditches. Other months, they live in woodlands, meadows, pastures and gardens.