Governor Gary Locke will open the 7th Biennial Salmon Recovery Conference in Tacoma next week, where more than 800 scientists, landowners, organizations, agencies and people committed to restoring salmon populations throughout Washington’s waterways will meet.
This year’s conference coincides with the 20th anniversary of the passage of the Salmon Recovery Act in Washington state, which aimed to restore salmon by establishing a Governor’s Salmon Recovery Office to oversee a coordinated framework among local, regional, tribal and state stakeholders. The law also established a salmon recovery funding board to help with the implementation of habitat projects. Governor Locke will offer his perspective on the state’s strategy for the next 20 years and beyond.
Since passage of the Salmon Recovery Act, landowners, tribes, local governments, researchers and the state have worked together to develop and implement salmon recovery plans using the best scientific data available to them. The Salmon Recovery Act has underscored that restoring these fish is a collaborative effort that requires participation from all stakeholders, including state and local government, forestland owners and the community-at-large.
Through the Forests & Fish Law, adopted in 1999, state and Private forest landowners have embraced salmon recovery efforts from the start, and in some ways, have helped lead the way. Forestland owners have removed more than 7,900 fish passage barriers with the goal of eliminating 100 percent of fish barriers on private forestlands by 2021, which resulted in more than 5,200 miles of fish habitat reopened throughout the state.
The convening that meets every other year is an important event for sharing information and finding ways to improve upon salmon recovery in the state. Conference participants also can expect to find opportunities to network and connect with others who too are working to ensure that the culturally iconic fish will flourish in Washington’s waters.
What first began as a place to discuss on-the-ground salmon recovery projects and how to implement them better, the conference has developed into much more since the inaugural meeting in 2007. The salmon restoration summit now includes the latest research, policy discussions about salmon recovery and a broader look at salmon’s impact on our culture and identity.
The 7th biennial Salmon Recovery Conference is April 8 – 9 at the Greater Tacoma Convention Center. The 2019 conference will feature more than 200 presenters, including former Gov. Locke and Orca Task Force co-chairs Les Purce and Stephanie Solien. Topics will include tribal treaty rights, adapting to climate change, invasive species, a 20 year look ahead in salmon recovery and in-depth look at regional salmon restoration projects.