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Stillaguamish Watershed Chooses ˇ§Ambitious Alternativeˇ¨
Itˇ¦s better to invest in recovery now and make a clear commitment to salmon habitat restoration, the members of the Stillaguamish Implementation Review Committee (SIRC) decided. SIRC is the local stakeholder planning group for the Stillaguamish watershed salmon recovery chapter. The local planning effort is co-lead by Snohomish County and the Stillaguamish Tribe.
The group believes that salmon recovery actions will only get more expensive and difficult to implement in the future given the projected population growth in the watershed, so it is more cost-effective to take aggressive action in the first 10 years of the plan. With that, the SIRC chose its most ambitious planning alternative by consensus.
The three alternatives which the SIRC considered were developed by the committee based on science, community considerations and practical implementation issues. Alternatives were laid out in three categories: conservative, moderate and ambitious. Factors such as landowner willingness, permitting, engineering and coordination were considered in developing the suites of projects for each alternative. All projects are strategically designed to have the highest benefit to chinook salmon.
Projects were developed according to the 2004 Stillaguamish Lead Entity Strategy. This chinook focused strategy was developed by the SIRC and the watershed leads for the Salmon Recovery Funding Board (SRFB) sponsors with planning in mind. The strategy recently received praise from the SRFB Review Panel for its clarity and focus.
The ambitious alternative aims for a robust suite of voluntary projects in priority areas over 10 years. Selection of an alternative is a first step in developing the recovery plan chapter. Next steps include talking with local organizations to gauge their willingness to implement as well as technical review by NOAA fisheries. The specific suite of actions the SIRC selected is:
„X Treat two major landslides and 106 miles of forest roads
„X Restore 305 acres of estuary
„X Place 51 engineered logjams instream
„X Enhance 400 acres of riparian buffers
„X Restore 30 acres of side channel habitat
Snohomish County used the Ecosystem Diagnosis and Treatment (EDT) model to estimate the chinook population response to the alternatives. EDT provides a practical, science-based approach for developing working hypotheses as a basis for moving forward with watershed protection and restoration activities.
The EDT estimate is that the Stillaguamish watershed will reach thirty percent of the planning target for both chinook stocks in the first ten years of plan implementation with its ambitious goal. With previous salmon habitat protection and restoration work, the watershed is currently at ten percent of the Shared Strategy target, so the SIRC goal will increase the population three-fold.
SIRC members expressed concern that policy assumptions should still remain more conservative. They felt that local land use and forest practices could degrade habitat while voluntary habitat restoration efforts are making progress. The SIRC affirmed that he ambi ernative is the right approach to take and will look for state and regional leadership on regulatory matters. Their hope is that they stand a better chance of receiving financial help as well as more streamlined permitting from the state and federal government if they from the farming community, forestry industry, the Tribes, County Council, conservation groups, cities, state agencies and citizens at large. The SIRC will seek to present their recommendations to local decision-makers in late May or early June.act to make a significant difference early.
The local citizens and stakeholders on the SIRC want local decision-makers including elected officials to know that this work is important to them and that they are together in supporting an aggressive approach for salmon recovery. The SIRC includes representatives tious