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 degradation is impervious surface, things like roads, rooftops and parking lots. It is essentially anything that stops water from naturally seeping into the ground. In the Puyallup River watershed, the increase in impervious surface has been drastic.
South Puyallup River watershed:
From the report:
The Puyallup River Basin saw an increase in impervious surface of 47% from 1986-2006. The South Prairie Creek mainstem is identified as a high priority for protection, meaning that further degradation would have a large negative effect on Chinook performance in that system (Salmon Habitat and Protection and Restoration Strategy March 2008). From 1986 to 2006, South Prairie Creek Basin’s impervious surface increased from 4% to 5.5% (“little to no impact” in impervious surface to “trend to impacting”). Clarks Creek contains critical habitat for Chinook Salmon. This basin saw an increase in impervious surface from 40 to 62%. The health of this creek and its sustainability are in jeopardy.
The Puyallup River Basin has an estimated 2010 population of 419,660 in incorporated communities and unincorporated Pierce and King Counties. It includes the state’s third largest city, Tacoma, with a population estimate of almost 200,000 for 2010. Increased population pressure and development, with the conversion of forested areas to impervious surfaces, is the major factor affecting water quality in the region (Puget Sound Partnership, 2008a). Greater numbers of people in the region result in greater volumes of wastewater, more septic systems, and more sources of nutrients entering surface waters. As a result of development, once forested land has been replaced with buildings, roads, and lawns.
More information on the State of Our Watershed’s report can be found here.