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Draft Salmon Habitat and Ecosystem Conservation Plan

Clallam County has prepared a Draft Salmon Habitat and Ecosystem Conservation Plan (PDF). The plan is currently a list of salmon recovery actions that Clallam County is implementing or will implement in the future. We are circulating this document to all of the watershed planning units in the County, as well as the Board of Jefferson County Commissioners; the Cities of Sequim, Port Angeles and Forks; the Jamestown S'Klallam, Lower Elwha Klallam, Makah, Quileute, and Hoh Tribes; and the large forest landowners in the County for their review and comment as well. These other organizations may provide additional actions that they are currently implementing or will implement in their salmon recovery efforts. An expanded plan that includee a more comprehensive set of actions related to salmon recovery (such as harvest management, hatchery management, water diversions, or forest management) would be valuable in making effective decisions and prioritization of salmon recovery efforts in general.

While the emphasis of the plan is on salmon recovery in general, the recent listings of four salmonid species as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) means that responding to the legal and procedural requirements of the Act must be a component of any salmon recovery strategy. Responding to the current form of the requirements of ESA determined, to a large degree, the way in which the Plan is organized. These requirements will change over time due to lawsuits, changes in administration at the federal level, and new scientific information. Maintaining the focus of the plan on salmon recovery will allow our region (tentatively from the eastern County line across the Peninsula and inclusive of the Hoh basin in Jefferson County) to retain a degree of local control and consistency, while also allowing for the plan to include restoration of species or stocks of salmon which are not listed under ESA. These other stocks are in many cases equally imperiled in individual watersheds in the region, or are currently healthy but showing significant decline.

In the Draft Plan, Clallam County makes a strong commitment to watershed planning into the future as a cornerstone of successful salmon recovery strategy. The County hopes that the watershed planning groups and committee members share this commitment, and would appreciate a response from the various planning groups (in Water Resource Inventory Areas 17,18,19 and 20 as well as the Marine Resource Committee) indicating the presence or absence of this shared commitment.

After responses to the document have been received from the other jurisdictions in the region, the watershed planning groups, and the citizens within the region, the plan will be submitted for review to the National Marine Fisheries Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Governor's Salmon Recovery Office. Clallam County will ask these agencies what additional actions, if any, beyond those which we in the region are already firmly committed to, should be implemented to meet with the requirements of the ESA and attempt to reverse the population declines of the salmon stocks of the area in general. The review process at those levels should begin in mid-June to effectively respond to new ESA regulations.