October 12, 2004
Dear Watershed Planning Team,
Your dedication and hard work on behalf of salmon recovery is much
appreciated and we want to thank you again at this juncture.
We are collectively entering the regional consensus building phase
of the work for the final recovery plan and its implementation.
Building regional consensus at this magnitude has not been done before
and is simultaneously daunting and inspiring. Your help at this stage,
building on your past work, is critical for success. At the regional
scale, each watershed chapter and its implementation is like a
link in a chain, and this next year is all about forging as strong
a chain as possible.
The Shared Strategy Development Committee, the TRT and Work Group
believe we can meet the deadline for a recovery plan by June
30, 2005 if we all work together. We see two components that
have to be worked on concurrently between now and June 30th.
The first is building consensus on what we are trying to achieve
in the long-term and in the next ten years. The second is improving
the technical support for the actions and commitments for the
Thanks to your June 30th submittal and subsequent meetings in
August with the Technical Recovery Team (TRT) and policy reviewers,
we have a good picture of what we have to build a Puget Sound
recovery plan and what we still need. This letter provides information
on what we mean by regional consensus, the intent of our October
Feedback (attached), recovery criteria and population roles,
and other regional tasks.
Building Regional Consensus: Over the remaining
months of this year, we hope to work together to develop a clear
picture of what recovery for salmon in Puget Sound means over the
long-term, what we can accomplish in the next ten-years, as well
as the funding and other regional decisions that are needed to be
successful. Consensus on these issues is critical for completing
the recovery plan, to achieve NOAA and USFWS endorsement, and for
continued funding. We have been told by key leaders that without
a comprehensive recovery plan and regional consensus for implementation,
funding from federal and state sources will be difficult to maintain,
and increasing funds to the levels necessary for recovery will
We hope to confirm regional consensus on recovery at the Shared
Strategy Summit on January 26-27, 2005. The Summit is the place
for elected officials, watershed leaders and others to affirm
their commitment to salmon recovery in the long-term, as well
as confirm regional and watershed goals, the objectives for the
next ten years, the conditions necessary to gain commitments
and the funding needed for implementation. We need your help
to inform key decision-makers about the importance of the Summit
and encourage their participation.
The second part of the effort to complete the Puget Sound recovery
plan on June 30th is focused on gaining commitments and technical
documentation. We would like to have your final watershed chapters
with commitments by April 30th. We believe that defining the actions
and decisions for Chinook is consistent with bull trout and Hood
Canal summer chum recovery needs.
October Feedback: Based on achieving this two-part approach in the
coming months, we prepared the attached feedback document. This feedback
has been developed by Shared Strategy staff and has been reviewed
by the TRT for consistency with their technical review and conclusions.
The details were discussed with the Shared Strategy Development Committee
and they support the overall direction. You will receive more specific
technical feedback from the TRT by early November 2004 which is intended
to help you strengthen the technical foundation of your final chapter.
The attached document is designed to meet several needs.
- Section 1: identifies the most important questions to
answer and decisions to make by the end of December 2004 in preparation
for the January Summit.
- Section 2 and 3: describe what we need
from you by April 30, 2005 to complete the regional recovery
plan and to ensure we are on the path to recover salmon across
- Section 4: summarizes our understanding of what has
been proposed to date based on your answers to the six questions
and August meetings.
We developed the feedback in a consistent manner for all watersheds
so you and other interested parties could quickly see what has been
done so far and what is asked of other watersheds.
Regional Recovery Criteria and Long-term Population
Roles: It might
be helpful to briefly review the regional criteria for recovery to
place the attached requests in context. For the short-term (next
10 years), the Puget Sound recovery plan needs to provide certainty
that proposed strategies and actions for habitat, hatcheries and
harvest are likely to achieve results for fish that reverse declines
and put populations on a recovery trajectory. Additionally, the plan
needs to demonstrate a strong likelihood that strategies and actions
will be implemented. For the long-term, the plan needs to identify
what it will take to achieve a low-risk of extinction for the Evolutionarily
Significant Unit (ESU).
The Shared Strategy Development Committee supports the use of the
draft TRT delisting criteria to guide how we define and implement
recovery. The TRT believes that most if not all of the remaining
22 independent spawning populations of Chinook are at high risk at
this time. Historically, it is believed there were over 30 independent
populations in Puget Sound. Therefore, all the remaining populations
have important contributions to make to salmon recovery.
The TRT criteria suggest that in order for the ESU to have a low
risk of extinction, all populations need to move out of high risk
to a condition in which they are supportive of the status of the
whole ESU. A supportive population must have natural production sufficient
to provide benefits to the function and integrity of the ecosystem,
and support harvest and hatchery objectives. To achieve these results
all watersheds will need to take significant actions in the next
ten years to reverse declining trends and get on the path towards
In addition to moving all populations out of high risk status, the
draft TRT ESU viability criteria suggest that a number of populations
need to fulfill a core role. A core population is naturally self-sustaining
at harvestable levels, meeting or exceeding Co-manager targets and
VSP criteria. The TRT ESU viability criteria state that if there
are at least 2-4 core populations in each of the five regions of
Puget Sound, the ESU will have a high likelihood of persistence.
This recommended distribution of core populations will ensure that
catastrophic events in one region do not cause the decline of all
of the Chinook in Puget Sound. Core populations of Chinook in each
of the 5 regions also increase the resilience of Chinook within the
ESU to withstand future changes in environmental conditions.
In three regions of Puget Sound (the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the
Strait of Georgia/Nooksack region and Hood Canal) there are currently
only two populations per region. Therefore in order to meet the ESU
viability criteria, all populations in these three regions will need
to play a core role. In the Central-South Sound and Whidbey regions,
there are more remaining Chinook populations, and the long-term roles
of these populations for ESU recovery still need to be determined.
In cases where watersheds have not determined their long-term goals,
the Shared Strategy Development Committee recommends the watershed
examine its potential role based on the TRT ESU viability criteria,
the status of the populations that use the watershed, the ecological
condition of the watershed, the ability to achieve low risk status
in the long-term, and the cost of recovery actions. In some cases
we don’t have enough information to determine what it will
take to move a population to a status such that it plays a core role.
In most cases, the work of the next ten years to move populations
out of high risk will not differ whether the population is ultimately
providing a supportive or core role.
In addition to a focus on the primary habitats used by independent
spawning populations, it is also important to plan for nearshore,
marine and tributaries to Puget Sound. To achieve the TRT delisting
criteria, these areas need to function in a manner that is sufficient
to support ESU-wide recovery.
Over a long-time horizon, it may be difficult for watersheds to
know how to achieve recovery or if proposed actions will indeed have
the hoped for results. In that respect, a recovery plan can be said
to be visionary. It is important to describe the long-term view,
even as you focus on developing 10-year actions to reverse declining
trends and put your populations on a recovery trajectory. Your answers
to the questions in Section 1 of the October Feedback, in addition
to being important for the upcoming Summit, will help all involved
evaluate the role the populations in your watershed can realistically
play in a healthy ESU.
Other Regional Tasks: In addition to the work we are requesting
from your and other watersheds in Puget Sound, there are a number
of regional issues that need to advance over the next months. We
would like your input and guidance on the following topics.
1. Financing and Investment Strategy – Adequate funding for
implementation will be one of the most important factors determining
the pace of actions and the ultimate results. We have performed
an extensive analysis of existing and potential new sources of
money. We have discussed future funding with a number of federal,
state, local and tribal government leaders as well as business
and nonprofit interests. It is the conclusion of most leaders that
we should develop a ten year investment plan that matches prioritized
recovery actions with funding. With your help we plan to develop
criteria to guide investments over the next ten years and come
up with three alternative levels of funding for consideration at
the January Summit. In the meantime, if you are not already on
the email distribution list to receive updates and requests for
feedback on the developing ideas and analyses, please let us know
and we’ll be glad to add you.
2. Adaptive Management and Monitoring – It is clear from the
information provided by you and other watersheds as well as the scientific
work at the Puget Sound scale that it will be important to improve
our knowledge and the certainty of results. It will be critical to
establish a rigorous monitoring and adaptive management system as
we move into implementation. We need clear milestones and measures
at the watershed and regional level to determine our success and
where we need to adjust our strategies. We hope to host a break-out
session at the Summit as well as create a regional workshop afterwards
where we can all put our heads together and create a solid framework
for monitoring and adaptive management. Fortunately, there has been
significant work by some watersheds and others already these important
3. Assurances – Many watersheds have asked for more specifics
on the federal assurances that could come from commitment to implement
a recovery plan. We are working with the NOAA Fisheries and the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service to develop more specific definitions for
assurances, both what they can provide and what they will need from
the region. We hope to have a letter from the Services to you by
4. Implementation Structure – The implementation structure
at the local and regional level will be critical to the success of
the long-term effort. The Shared Strategy non-profit organization
and staff will complete its work by the end of next year. The Development
Committee would like to work with you and others to develop organizational
recommendations for the implementation of the recovery plan. We will
be developing some initial thoughts on this topic soon and request
In closing, the Development Committee wanted you to know how much
they appreciate all that you have done so far and they understand
the implications of the requests for continued work over the coming
months. They wanted you to have this information as soon as possible
following their September retreat and asked us to send you this letter
and attached October feedback. Look for a letter from them soon that
supports these conclusions and requests. As mentioned above, the
TRT will also provide more detailed technical feedback by early November
We are very excited about working with you in the coming months
to work together to create an inspiring salmon recovery plan. Meanwhile,
don’t hesitate to call us with questions or concerns.