Washington’s Salmon Watcher Program

Created: 3/30/2010 - Updated: 10/28/2021

Summary

The Salmon Watcher Program is one of the “Climate Steward” examples provided in the U.S. Global Change Research Program’s Climate Change, Wildlife, and Wildlands Toolkit for Formal and Informal Educators. The program trains volunteers to collect information on spawning salmon in streams and rivers throughout two Washington counties; these monitoring efforts help scientists determine natural and climate-based fluctuations in populations. After 20 years of data collection, monitoring, and service, the Salmon Watcher Program ended in 2015.

Background

Many salmon species in Washington State have been designated as threatened or endangered. Populations have declined due to disease, overfishing, and dam construction; climate change is also a threat. Earlier snowmelt and increased precipitation rates will alter flow patterns of the streams and rivers that salmon use; warmer waters may also affect salmon physiology and alter behavior. The Salmon Watcher Program, founded in 1996, trained citizen scientists to monitor the status of salmon populations in streams and rivers throughout King and Snohomish counties. This project is featured as one of the case studies in the U.S. Global Change Research Program’s Climate Change, Wildlife, and Wildlands Toolkit for Formal and Informal Educators, and was developed to aid educators in communicating how climate change will affect the environment and how people can become “climate stewards.”

Implementation

The Salmon Watcher Program trained volunteers to identify different salmon species, including Chinook, coho, sockeye, kokanee, and chum. Volunteers monitored salmon populations at assigned streams twice a week between September and December (spawning season). Information was also collected on any barriers to salmon passage in the water. The information collected was then passed on to scientists so that they could determine fluctuations in populations. The program was conducted with support and cooperation from the Bellevue Stream Team, Redmond Stream Team, and the cities of Seattle, Bothell, Kirkland, Renton, Issaquah, and Woodinville. The program concluded at the end of the 2015 spawning season.

Outcomes and Conclusions

The Salmon Watcher Program was a citizen science effort to monitor and provide information that may help identify the effects of climate change on different commercially and ecologically valuable species in Washington State. Although the program has ended, the data will continue to serve as critical documentation of salmon distribution and trends in the area over the 20-year timeframe.

Additionally, partners such as the Bellevue Stream Team will continue to hold trainings and collect data on local salmon populations.

Status

Information gathered from online resources. Last updated on 8/21.

Project File (s)

Salmon Watcher Program 2015 Volunteer Salmon Watcher Program Annual Report: Lake Washington Watershed … City of Bellevue Stream Team

Citation

Gregg, R. M. (2021). Washington's Salmon Water Program [Case study on a project of King County]. Version 2.0. Product of EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation Program. (Last updated August 2021)

Project Contact(s)

Keywords

Scale of Project
Community / Local
State / Provincial
Sector Addressed
Conservation / Restoration
Target Climate Changes and Impacts
Air temperature
Precipitation
Snowpack
Water temperature
Other
Climate Type
Temperate
Timeframe
Other
Type of Adaptation Action/Strategy
Natural Resource Management / Conservation
Capacity Building
Increase / Improve public awareness, education, and outreach efforts
Conduct / Gather additional research, data, and products
Monitor climate change impacts and adaptation efficacy
Habitat/Biome Type
Aquatic
Sociopolitical Setting
Urban
Rural
Suburban
Effort Stage
Completed

Related Resources

Adaptation Phase
Awareness
Assessment
Planning
Implementation
Integration/Mainstream
Evaluation
Sharing Lessons
Sector Addressed
Biodiversity
Climate Justice
Conservation / Restoration
Culture/communities
Disaster Risk Management
Education / Outreach
Fisheries
Land Use Planning
Policy
Research
Rural / Indigenous Livelihoods
Transportation / Infrastructure
Water Resources
Wildlife
Read more