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: Skagit River newspaper article

05-21-2004, 09:55 AM

Brian Simonseth
05-21-2004, 09:24 PM
Skagit Watershed Council - Skagit Recovery Goals Meeting
Talking points prepared by Jeffrey Koenings, Ph.D., WDFW Director

August 14, 2002

I think you all agree that the Skagit Valley is an important part of the Puget Sound region and the United States as a whole-that's why most of you live here.
It is important from my perspective because it has one of the largest remaining runs of Chinook salmon in the Sound, and is one of the last remaining vestiges of small family farming in the State.

Participants of the Shared Strategy process hope that by asking the Skagit community to participate in the recovery planning process, the community can find ways to preserve these two important resources of the Skagit Valley.
We hope that the resources that the Shared Strategy can bring to the process will support the local community in finding solutions that meet the needs for clean, clear, cold water for both healthy salmon populations and people in the Skagit Valley.
Now Donna talked about the process of the Shared Strategy and Jim gave an excellent explanation of the fish science. I am going to talk about a different subject-attitude. The manner in which you approach any task often determines the outcome so attitude as well as science and process is very important.
I want to talk about three important aspects or ingredients of the process we are embarking on today-it's sort of like cooking a stew-you need the right ingredients.

What are they?
First = Experience
Second = Trust
Third = Hard Work

Over one hundred years ago the noted writer, author and educator Clarence Day said, "Information is pretty thin stuff unless mixed with experience."
You're heard a lot of information today-good solid stuff based on science. Now we are asking that you take that information and use your local knowledge and experience with the Skagit Valley to find ways to get us to our joint goal of healthy fish living within a healthy valley.

More information will be forthcoming as this is in large part an experiment-and information is a central part of any experiment. You and others like you living here in the valley are the glue that will hold this experiment together-your experience and guidance in crafting solutions will be essential to making this experiment successful.

The second ingredient is trust.
An author and scientist named Pyle captured this element when he said, "People change not because of something they read, but because someone they know and trust says it's a good idea."
This process or experiment is about change-change over time that will create an environment necessary for healthy salmon runs. It's you and others like you that are necessary to convince others that change can occur. And you need to be an active part of guiding that change so it can be accomplished. People in WDFW have often heard me say that science/information is a good thing, but it's useless if it sits on a shelf and doesn't get implemented. Implementation means communicating your ideas to people-and one way of doing that is walking your talk or leading by example.

So the Department is going to lead by example.
I realize that WDFW is an important landowner in the Skagit estuary and owns or controls nearly 14,000 acres of habitat. Most of this acreage is outside of the dikes but somewhat less than 1,000 acres are behind dikes.

We recognize the importance and need of developing and constructing science-based fish friendly restoration projects on some of this publicly owned "upland."
We also recognize that such restoration may impact some important elements of our current waterfowl program and we are working to find replacement areas for those.
We are, with our partners, developing a proposal that will request funds to do design, scoping, etc. work on about 200+ acres on the "headquarters segment" of the Skagit Wildlife Area that is referred to as Wylie Slough. If funded this project will help us create a restoration design to restore as much of that area back to estuarine habitat as is practical.

In addition, WDFW is completing a review of all of our lands in the lower river area with an eye to identifying future restoration projects and/or demonstration projects.
It is my intent that WDFW lead the way in the restoration of critical salmon habitat in the Skagit estuary. WDFW as a public landowner will partner with private landowners in the effort-landowner to landowner!
It is through such cooperative efforts that we will be good neighbors here in the valley-trusted neighbors that will lead by example.

The third component is hard work-quite simply put, this is hard work. I said before that this effort can be compared to an experiment-why? Because, frankly, a regional recovery plan for salmon has never been done before-we together are doing this as we go. It follows the new design/build concept in construction projects-you're continually designing the outcome as you build the structure.

Former President Teddy Roosevelt and noted conservationist summed this third component up when he said, "Far and away the best prize that life offers us is the chance to work hard at work worth doing."

This is work worth doing! And this is hard work!
Some people in this room are here because they are passionate about the resource. Others are here because they may feel threatened. Still others because they are simply curious. But whatever the reason, I think we all share the sense that this is "hard work worth doing."
It's also "worth doing right" so here again the local knowledge and experience you all bring to this effort is so essential to getting the "hard work done right."

Others are working hard on the harvest and hatchery pieces of this puzzle-hatchery reforms are being implemented and harvest practices are being addressed coast-wide from Alaska south through Canada to Mexico, e.g. over the last three years the co-managers have put 10's of millions more Chinook eggs into the Skagit watershed.

So, what do we get with all this hard work?
We get local communities successfully engaged in the long-term resolution of difficult natural resource issues; the anticipation of continued funding to get the job done; coverage under the Endangered Species Act; and most of all a healthier place to live: meaning both sustainable salmon and farms in the Northwest-both resources to treasure.
So working with science-based solutions and with the three ingredients of:

1. Local Experience
2. Mutual Trust
3. Collaborative Hard Work

I think we can do this-create a healthy home for fish and provide for a healthy Skagit Valley as a home for people.
Thank you