Across Washington State, salmon are on the brink of extinction. Protecting and restoring riparian lands — the land next to rivers and streams — is our best hope to bring them back!
Governor Jay Inslee introduced a bill (SB 5727 and HB 1838) that he named the Lorraine Loomis Act in tribute to salmon advocate, Swinomish Tribe member, and Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission Chair Lorraine Loomis. The Act would require green corridors along Washington state rivers and streams (riparian lands). This means protecting and restoring trees that are tall and wide enough to shade rivers and streams. Mature trees keep salmon habitat cool and clean. The Act also requires a new standard of salmon protection: salmon habitat ecology and conditions must be improved, rather than mitigated after damage is already done.
Some Puget Sound salmon species have declined by 90% compared to historic populations. Columbia River basin salmon returns are as low as 2% of historic levels. Chinook salmon and other species lose more habitat than they gain, despite decades of effort and billions of dollars. Our Southern Resident Orcas depend on salmon for food but find fewer and fewer fish to eat each year.
Moreover, climate change is driving our shared ecosystem to a tipping point. Tribal Nations and Indigenous communities that rely on salmon are acutely affected by catastrophic salmon decline. The Lorraine Loomis Act will help keep streams cool amidst rising regional temperatures by protecting and restoring desperately needed riparian lands. It will help ensure our waters and communities are healthier and more resilient to climate change.
Soundkeeper supports the Lorraine Loomis Act. Requiring green corridors for riparian lands will:
- Protect salmon, and clean and abundant water
- Honor Indigenous and Tribal Treaty rights to fish
- Ensure more healthy and resilient ecosystems that will better withstand climate change