Salmon Recovery

Coho salmon returning to spawn

Coho salmon returning to spawn

Whidbey Island lies in the center of the Salish Sea, at the entrance to Puget Sound where the Strait of Georgia, and the Strait of Juan de Fuca merge. Our shorelines provide habitat for juvenile salmon from many natal rivers, and adult salmon pass by our shores on their return journey to streams and rivers around Puget Sound. Genetic testing has shown that most of the fish found here are from the Skagit, but 22 distinct populations have been found.

A few stream systems on Whidbey can support spawning, the largest being the Maxwelton watershed. The Maxwelton Valley contains 19 miles of stream habitat, and the former estuary was also one of the largest on the island. Other stream systems that can support natal populations include Maxwelton Creek (South Whidbey), Glendale Creek (South Whidbey), Crescent Creek (North Whidbey), and Kristopherson Creek on Camano Island.

Coho smolt from Maxwelton Creek

Coho smolt from Maxwelton Creek

The main contribution of Island County to the salmon life history is our salt marshes, and protected shorelines that shelter juvenile salmon coming from the large river systems of the Skagit, Stillaguamish and Snohomish. In Island County’s Water Resource Inventory Area, or WRIA 6, our recovery plan recognizes the importance of the areas near these river mouths along the north eastern side of the island. Other areas are important as well, so recovery includes all parts of the island. Island County’s recovery plan was adopted in 2005. The Marine Resource Committee is currently identifying progress and ways to improve. Whidbey Watershed Stewards’ restoration and education efforts contribute to the success of this plan. 

 To see the full recovery plan look here: Island County Salmon Recovery Plan