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Find articles, maps, and other content tagged by any of the 21 watershed sub-basins in the Puget Sound area. The geospatial boundaries below represent the 4th level (8-digit) hydrologic unit boundaries of the Watershed Boundary Dataset (WBD) layer for Washington. Data source: The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service.

map showing the 21 watershed sub-basins in Puget Sound

Strait of Georgia watershed San Juan Islands Watershed Dungeness-Elwha Watershed Crescent Hoko Watershed Hood Canal Watershed Skokomish Watershed Puget Sound Watershed Nooksack Watershed Fraser Watershed Upper Skagit Wwatershed Lower Skagit Watershed Stillaguamish Watershed Snohomish Watershed Skykomish Watershed Snoqualmie Watershed Lake Washington Watershed Duwamish Watershed Puyallup Watershed Nisqually Watershed Deschutes Watershed

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A 2015 report from Snohomish County, King County and the Tulalip Tribes outlines protection strategies for salmon and salmon habitat within the Snohomish Basin. 

Water quantity , Fishes , Nearshore habitat , Freshwater habitat , Terrestrial habitat , Snohomish County, Snohomish Watershed
2003 Seattle Marathon - Seward Park Photo: J Brew (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Lake Washington was heavily contaminated by untreated sewage until extensive pollution controls by the city of Seattle. 

Water quality , Species and food webs , Algae, Fishes, Invertebrates , Freshwater habitat , Lake Washington Watershed
Appendix 5. Map of Skykomish/Tye River Control Locations 2014

The final report on a knotweed removal and native plant project from grant PO-00J08401 to King County DNR for the grant entitled: Protection and enhancement of the riparian buffers in WRIA 7 through restoration and stewardship.

Water quality , Plants , Terrestrial habitat , Freshwater habitat , Skykomish Watershed, Snoqualmie Watershed, King County

Hypoxia, defined as dissolved oxygen (DO) concentrations less than 2 mg / L, has become widespread throughout estuaries and semi-enclosed seas throughout the world (Diaz 2001). 

Water quality , Marine habitat , Estuarine habitat , Nearshore habitat , Hood Canal Watershed
Report cover photo by Victor Mesny.

A 2014 report by the North Cascadia Adaptation Partnership identifies climate change issues relevant to resource management in the North Cascades, and recommends solutions that will facilitate the transition of the diverse ecosystems of this region into a warmer climate.

Water quality , Species and food webs , Plants, Mammals, Birds, Fishes , Freshwater habitat , Terrestrial habitat , Clallam County, King County, Skagit County, Snohomish County, Whatcom County, Puget Sound Watershed, Snohomish Watershed, Stillaguamish Watershed, Upper Skagit Watershed
Alaska Airlines 737 taking off from Sea-Tac Airport with Mt Rainier and Central Terminal in background. Photo: Port of Seattle by Don Wilson

How does one of the West's busiest airports deal with extreme stormwater, and what does that mean for water quality standards in the rest of the state?

Water quality , Fishes , Freshwater habitat , Terrestrial habitat , King County, Duwamish Watershed, Puget Sound Watershed
Stillaguamish River (North Fork) valley

A 2014 report prepared by the Stillaguamish Tribe analyzes potential causes of changes in peak and low flows in the Stillaguamish River basin. 

Water quantity , Water quality , Freshwater habitat , Stillaguamish Watershed
Seattle's central waterfront at sunset. Photo: Michael Matti (CC BY-NC 2.0)

The decaying seawall along Seattle’s waterfront is providing scientists with an opportunity to improve long-lost habitat for migrating salmon. It could also show the way for habitat enhancements to crumbling infrastructure worldwide. One University of Washington researcher describes the project.

Species and food webs , Fishes , Marine habitat , Nearshore habitat , Shoreline Habitats , King County, Puget Sound Watershed, Puget Sound Main Basin
report cover photo

This 2009 report by the Nisqually Tribe establishes key measures of restoration development, habitat processes, and Chinook salmon response for the largest delta restoration project in the Pacific Northwest.

Fishes , Freshwater habitat , Thurston County, Nisqually Watershed
Nisqually Reserve Fish Sampling March 2012. Photo: Michael Grilliot, DNR (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The growth and survival of young salmon in streams, river deltas and floodplains are seen as crucial pieces of the salmon recovery puzzle. In part two of this two-part series, researchers at the Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference in Seattle say the complexities of the salmon life cycle require new coordination among scientists.

Species and food webs , Fishes , Estuarine habitat , Nearshore habitat , Freshwater habitat , Nisqually Watershed
Coastal Management journal cover

This paper appears in the July 2014 issue of the journal Coastal Management, which focuses on the role of social sciences in Puget Sound ecosystem recovery.

Human quality of life , Watersheds
A 2010 documentary describes efforts to protect and restore the Puyallup watershed.

A 2010 video by the University of Washington Tacoma describes efforts to protect and restore the Puyallup watershed. 

Water quantity , Water quality , Puyallup Watershed

The Salish Sea Natural Area Conservation Plan is a project of the Natural Areas Conservation Program (NACP) established in 2007 by the Canadian government, which helps non-profit, non-government organizations protect sensitive areas. The process involves selecting biodiversity targets and determining measures of conservation success.

Strait of Georgia Watershed
Friday Harbor, San Juan Island. Photo courtesy of NOAA and the Pacific Tides Party.

A summary of data on ecosystems designated as Critical Areas (formerly Environmentally Sensitive Areas) in San Juan County, including recommendations for management.

San Juan County, San Juan Islands Watershed

Envision Skagit is a partnership between Skagit County and various local and regional organizations. The county is using a land use model as a tool to engage the community about natural resource planning and decisions. 

Skagit County, Lower Skagit Watershed
Ribbon seal sighted on January 11th, 2012 a dock on the Duwamish River, Seattle, Washington (credit Matt Cleland)

Can Puget Sound claim a new species? Ribbon seals were not previously thought to venture into the Salish Sea, but a series of sightings in Puget Sound in 2012 expands their potential range. Scientists are keeping an eye out for future sightings. 

Species and food webs , Mammals , King County, Snohomish County, Duwamish Watershed
Book cover for "Elwha: A River Reborn" by Lynda Mapes

The Encyclopedia of Puget Sound spoke with Seattle Times reporter Lynda Mapes about the exhibit Elwha: A River Reborn, which opened at the University of Washington Burke Museum on November 23rd. The exhibit is based on the book of the same title by Mapes and photographer Steve Ringman, and tells the story of the largest dam removal in U.S. history.  

Water quantity , Species and food webs , Fishes , Nearshore habitat , Freshwater habitat , Terrestrial habitat , Dungeness-Elwha Watershed
Hood canal watershed boundaries; image courtesy of the Puget Sound Partnership
The University of Washington Puget Sound Institute and Stanford University in collaboration with the Hood Canal Coordinating Council report on efforts to select human wellbeing indicators relevant to natural resource management in the Hood Canal watershed.
Healthy human population , Human quality of life , Marine habitat , Nearshore habitat , Freshwater habitat , Terrestrial habitat , Mason County, Hood Canal Watershed

Download presentations from the Study Panel on Ecosystem-based Management of Forage Fish held August 25, 2013 at the University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Lab, San Juan Island.

Species and food webs , Fishes , Marine habitat , Nearshore habitat , San Juan Islands Watershed
 Figure 1 from Masson and Perry 2013 identifies the area of focus for the Strait of Georgia Ecosystem Research Initiative.

A paper published in the August 2013 issue of Progress in Oceanography provides a summary and overview of the Strait of Georgia Ecosystem Research Initiative, an effort by Fisheries and Oceans Canada "to facilitate integrated research on the Strait of Georgia ecosystem."

Strait of Georgia Watershed, Georgia Basin
Don Malins examines a fish during a research trip to the Duwamish estuary. Photo circa 1987. Photographer unknown.

In the 1970s and 1980s, research from a division of NOAA's Montlake Lab suddenly and irreversibly changed the way scientists and the public viewed the health of Puget Sound. Their discoveries of industrial toxics in the region's sediment-dwelling fish led to the creation of two Superfund sites, and new approaches to ecosystem management across the Sound. The man at the forefront of this research was Dr. Donald Malins, featured here as part of the Puget Sound Voices series.

Water quality , Healthy human population , Fishes , Marine habitat , Estuarine habitat , Nearshore habitat , Freshwater habitat , Duwamish Watershed, Puyallup Watershed
Photograph of sediment-covered rocks in the lower Elwha River just upstream of the river mouth at the Strait of Juan de Fuca (June 20, 2012, Chris Magirl).

This document was prepared by the U.S. Geological Survey in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Park Service. Download the entire report, or read the Introduction below. Portions of this document were originally published in June 2013 and were updated in February 2014. 

Water quantity , Water quality , Fishes , Freshwater habitat , Clallam County, Dungeness-Elwha Watershed
Northern Sea Otter. Photo: Alaska Department of Fish and Game

The Encyclopedia of Puget Sound species library now includes a list of species of concern in the Salish Sea watershed. The list was created by Joe Gaydos and Nicholas Brown of the SeaDoc Society, and was released as a paper presented as part of the Proceedings of the 2011 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference in Vancouver, BC.

Species and food webs , Mammals, Birds, Reptiles, Amphibians, Fishes, Invertebrates , Strait of Georgia Watershed, Puget Sound Main Basin, Georgia Basin

There are many ways of defining the boundaries of the Puget Sound watershed. Hydrologic unit codes (HUCs) are nationally standardized divisions that are often used by conservation agencies and national organizations.

Watersheds, Puget Sound Watershed, Puget Sound Main Basin
State of the Sound cover image; Puget Sound Partnership

The Puget Sound Partnership is charged with preparing a State of the Sound report every two years to inform the legislature and the public on the status of restoration efforts in Puget Sound.

Marine habitat , Estuarine habitat , Nearshore habitat , Freshwater habitat , Terrestrial habitat , Watersheds
State of Our Watersheds Report

The State of Our Watersheds Report is produced by the treaty tribes of western Washington, and seeks to present a comprehensive view of 20 watersheds in the Puget Sound region and the major issues that are impacting habitat.

Human quality of life , Species and food webs , Fishes , Marine habitat , Nearshore habitat , Freshwater habitat , Watersheds
Map of the Hood Canal Action Area; courtesy Puget Sound Partnership

An independent review conducted by the Puget Sound Institute (PSI) is featured in findings by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Washington State Department of Ecology that there is currently “no compelling evidence” that humans are the cause for recent trends in declines in dissolved oxygen in Hood Canal.

Water quality , Algae , Marine habitat , Estuarine habitat , Nearshore habitat , Hood Canal Watershed, Hood Canal

The Upper Skagit tribe includes descendants from 11 villages in the Upper Skagit and Samish watersheds. Although the tribe signed the treaty of Point Elliott, no reservation was established, and members refused to leave the region. Today, the tribe's population is scattered among different towns, including Sedro-Woolley, Mount Vernon, and Newhalem.

Upper Skagit Area of Concern:

Upper Skagit Watershed

The Tulalip reservation is located near Marysville, Washington. It was created after the Point Elliott Treaty of 1855, and currently has a population of 2,500 members. The entire tribal population is approximately 4,000 and growing. 

Tulalip Tribes Area of Concern:

Nearshore habitat , Snohomish Watershed

The Stillaguamish Tribe is descended from the Stoluck-wa-mish River Tribe, who signed the treaty of Point Elliott in January 1855. Some tribal members moved to the Tulalip reservation, while others remained along the Stillaguamish River. The headquarters for the tribe are in Arlington, Washington.

Stillaguamish Area of Concern:

Stillaguamish Watershed

The Squaxin Island tribe is made up of several tribes from Squaxin Island and the surrounding inlets. Although no members of the tribe currently live on Squaxin Island year-round, it unites past and future generations and is still an important destination. The tribal headquarters are located in Kamilche.

Squaxin Island Area of Concern:

Deschutes Watershed

The Skokomish Tribe began as the Twana Indians, made up of nine communities living in and around the Hood Canal drainage basin.

Skokomish Area of Concern:

The tribe focuses restoration efforts in the Skokomish-Dosewallips basin (WRIA 16). Land use in this basin is concentrated along Hood Canal, since much of the remaining land falls under federal jurisdiction. Expanding development is a concern, especially as water demand increases. Aggressive timber harvesting in the last 15 years has left the watershed in need of serious restoration work. Both the Skokomish River and Hood Canal have elevated fecal coliform levels, which are partly attributable to agricultural practices in the surrounding watershed.

Natural Resource Management:

Skokomish Watershed

The original homeland of the Sauk-Suiattle tribe covered the entire drainage area of the Sauk, Suiattle, and Cascade rivers. A village of eight traditional cedar longhouses at Sauk Prairie was destroyed by settlers in 1884. From a tribe of 4,000 in 1855, numbers dropped until 1924, when only 18 members remained. Currently, the tribe has around 200 members.

Sauk-Suiattle Area of Concern:

Sauk Watershed

The Puyallup Tribe lives in one of the first areas in Puget Sound that was settled by Euro-Americans. For years, they were unable to exercise their fishing rights, until the U.S. vs. Washington court decision, which allowed them access to the usual and accustomed areas.

Puyallup Tribe Area of Concern:

Puyallup Watershed

The Port Gamble S’Klallam reservation covers 1,340 acres. Over half of the nearly 2,000 enrolled tribal members live on the reservation. Port Gamble Bay, the tribe’s ancestral home, has proven to be more resilient than other nearby water bodies, but it still carries a load of toxins from the Pope & Talbot sawmill, which operated on the bank for over 150 years.

Port Gamble S'Klallam Area of Concern:

Hood Canal Watershed

The Nooksack are a tribe of about 2,000 members. After signing the Point Elliott Treaty in 1855, they lost ownership of much of their land in exchange for fishing and hunting rights. They were expected to move to the Lummi Reservation, but most refused, and they were eventually granted some homestead claims. Currently, around 2,400 acres remain in trust, administered by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. After the 1855 treaty, the tribe remained unrecognized until 1973. The tribe's name translates to "always bracken fern roots".

Nooksack Tribe Area of Concern:

Nooksack Watershed

The Nisqually tribe has over 650 enrolled members. Most live on or near the reservation, which was established by the Medicine Creek Treaty in 1854. According to legend, the Nisqually people migrated from the Great Basin thousands of years ago, crossing the Cascades and settling in what is now Skate Creek. The tribe is one of the largest employers in Thurston County.

Nisqually Tribe Area of Concern:

Nisqually Watershed

The Muckleshoot Indian Tribe is named after the prairie where the Muckleshoot reservation was established in 1857. The tribe’s members are descended from the Duwamish and Upper Puyallup people.

Muckleshoot Tribe Area of Concern:

Duwamish Watershed, Lake Washington Watershed

The Lummi tribe is one of the largest in Washington State, with over 5,000 members.

Lummi Tribe Area of Concern:

The Lummi Tribe focuses their restoration efforts in the Nooksack Watershed (WRIA 1). Funding shortages have slowed progress, but major components of the restoration plan include construction of logjams in the Nooksack river, which historically had high instream wood abundance, and closure or repair of 458 miles of road within the watershed. Although the Nooksack estuary is healthy, the lower mainstem area of the river has lost over 90% of its historical wetland area.

Natural Resources Management:

Nooksack Watershed

The Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe lives on the north coast of the Olympic Peninsula, west of Port Angeles, in the lower Elwha River valley. The land was proclaimed the Lower Elwha Reservation in 1968, and the current tribal lands include approximately a thousand acres. Currently, the tribe has 985 enrolled members, with 395 living on the reservation.

Lower Elwha Klallam Area of Concern:

Dungeness-Elwha Watershed

The Jamestown S’Klallam tribe is one of several communities originating from the S’Klallam tribe (“strong people”), a cultural and linguistic group in the Salish Sea. The S’Klallam signed the treaty of Point No Point in 1855, which entitled them to a payment of $60,000 over 20 years and fishing rights at the “usual and accustomed places.” In 1874, a band of S’Klallams paid $500 for a 210-acre piece of land near Dungeness, which became the Jamestown community.

The Jamestown S’Klallams resisted moving to another reservation, at a price – the federal government ceased to recognize the tribe in 1953. After a long struggle, the tribe succeeded in gaining recognition again in 1981. Since 1988, the tribe has been part of a national Self-Governance Demonstration Project.

Dungeness-Elwha Watershed
The Snoqualmie River. Photo copyright King County.

The diversity of streams in the county is a reflection of the diversity of its geography. From the small rivulets that begin high in the Cascade Mountains, to the brooks that flow gently across the lowlands, to the five major rivers of the county, there are over 4,800 kilometers (3,000 miles) of perennial streamcourses in King County.

Freshwater habitat , King County, Duwamish Watershed, Lake Washington Watershed, Puyallup Watershed, Skokomish Watershed, Snoqualmie Watershed
Interesection of NW GAP Hydrological Units and Puget Sound WRIAs

The Encyclopedia of Puget Sound, in cooperation with the USGS, has developed a list of terrestrial vertebrates occurring within the Puget Sound basin.

Mammals, Birds, Reptiles, Amphibians , Terrestrial habitat , Watersheds, Puget Sound Main Basin
Adult female Rana aurora during fall migration of 2005 in Puget Sound (Hayes, Marc 2005).

The Northern Red-legged Frog is described here relative to its local behavior, habitat, threats and morphology.

Water quantity , Water quality , Amphibians , Freshwater habitat , Terrestrial habitat , Puget Sound Watershed, Puget Sound Main Basin
WRIA boundaries in Puget Sound area

The Washington State Department of Ecology and other state natural resources agencies have divided the Washington into 62 "Water Resource Inventory Areas" or "WRIAs" to delineate the state's major watersheds.

Camas flower in full bloom

A botanist believes Coast Salish tribes once favored small islands in the San Juan archipelago for growing camas, an important food staple. Her studies may also show the vulnerability of these relic gardens to climate change as sea levels rise.

Plants , Terrestrial habitat , San Juan County, San Juan Islands Watershed