Why did the salmon cross the road? Unlike the essential 2nd-grader’s chicken joke, the answer to this question isn’t going to make you chuckle.
You may have seen one of the viral videos. A lone salmon wriggles through a shallow rush of water crossing a street. It’s a possible dead-end for the fish, and potentially a death knell for salmon runs that thousands of Washington families rely on for their livelihood.
It’s what happens when our fish passage system breaks down. It’s why state and private forest landowners have corrected nearly 5,600 fish passage barriers, opening upstream fish passage along 3,800 miles of streams.
Downstream… that’s another story, one in which blocked streams are far too common. For fish like our salmon and steelhead, a stream that doesn’t run from spawning ground in the upper reaches of the streams to Puget Sound is like giving them a dead-end road.
The private and state forest landowners are dedicated to their commitment as stewards of these critical resources.
But a lack of funding and coordination for what must be done downstream threatens to negate the good that has already been accomplished.
Some funding for replacing fish passage barriers on state highways with passable alternatives is included in the transportation budget proposed by the state Senate, but it doesn't go far enough downstream to correct city and county barriers. The state House has yet to act.
It’s a start, but more will need to be done to ensure that the work already done upstream by state and private forestland owners is matched downstream.
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