Responding to comments at the Seattle Times: “How about calling off fishing for a few years?”

The Seattle Times’ article on Treaty Rights at Risk and the decline of salmon habitat in western Washington sparked a massive online response. By Monday afternoon there were 157 comments posted on the article, mostly negative. Most comments focused on tribal sovereignty, the meaning of the Boldt decision or tribal economics. But some focused on More »

The State of Our Watersheds Report and impervious surface in the Puyallup

Late last week the treaty tribes in western Washington released a new report showing that — despite drastic cuts in harvest and investment in habitat restoration — we are losing the fight to recover salmon. In short, salmon habitat destruction is still going on faster than restoration. One of the most damaging aspects of habitat More »

Ed Johnstone on what is at risk

Ed Johnstone of the Quinault Indian Nation talks about what is at risk for him: There are more stories about What is at Risk here. More »

What is the Treaty Rights at Risk initiative?

Download Treaty Rights at Risk, a report from the Treaty Indians Tribes in western Washington.We are losing the battle for salmon recovery in western Washington because salmon habitat is being damaged and destroyed faster than it can be restored.

Despite massive cuts in harvest, careful use of hatcheries and a huge financial investment in restoration during the past four decades, salmon continue to decline along with their habitat. This trend shows no signs of improvement. As the salmon disappear, so do our tribal cultures and treaty rights.

That’s why the tribes started the Treaty Rights at Risk initiative in July 2011. We began with development of a white paper outlining the issues and offering solutions for the protection of tribal treaty rights and recovery of salmon habitat. Then we took our concerns to Washington, D.C. and met with the White House.

We are asking the federal government to align its agencies and programs and lead a more coordinated salmon recovery effort. We want the United States to take charge of salmon recovery because it has the obligation and authority to ensure both salmon recovery and protection of tribal treaty rights. In failing to protect salmon habitat, the federal government is failing in its trust responsibility to honor its treaties with the tribes. This path leads to the extinction of both the salmon resource and our treaty-reserved rights.

As sovereign nations, the 20 treaty Indian tribes in western Washington signed treaties with the United States in 1855-56, giving up most of the land that is now western Washington, but reserving our rights to harvest salmon and other natural resources. For those rights to have meaning there must be salmon to harvest. If salmon are to survive, and if our treaty rights are to be honored, there must be real gains in habitat protection and restoration. Habitat is the key to salmon recovery, protection of our treaty rights and ensuring that salmon will be there for future generations.

You can find out more about the decline of salmon habitat from these reports:

A Qualitative Assessment of Implementation of the Puget Sound Chinook Salmon Recovery Plan, (Judge Report), NMFS, 2011

Historical Analysis of Habitat Alteration in the Snohomish River Valley, Tulalip Tribes and Snohomish County, 2001

Regulating Shoreline Armoring in Puget Sound from Puget Sound Shorelines and the Impacts of Armoring, USGS, 2011