Salmon Life Cycle

Pacific salmon species are a cultural icon for Washington and the Pacific Northwest.

Pacific salmon species vary in many respects, but the basic features of their life cycles are similar: Young salmon emerge in streams and rivers, and then eventually make their way to the sea. As adults, they return to their natal freshwaters to spawn and die. In death, they continue to form a vital part of forest ecosystems, providing a bounty of nutrients to animals, insects, and even plants.

Removing barriers and designing culverts to facilitate salmon migration is a key part of salmon recovery efforts. As of 2013, nearly 5,600 fish-blocking structures were removed in Washington, restoring more than 3,800 miles of historic fish habitat.

Private Foresters Doing Their Part to Recover Salmon Population

While forestry is not noted as a major cause in the decline of our wild salmon, private foresters are doing their part to help bring the salmon population back by providing better habitat, food, and creating the cool, clean water that salmon need to thrive. They have played an active role in the creation of the Forests and Fish Law which is the basis of Washington Forest Practices Habitat Conservation Plan. These policies have been put in place to require foresters to follow strict guidelines to safeguard the water quality of Washington's streams and rivers. In addition, new forest practices for forest road and culverts, buffer zones, and unstable slopes have been implemented as part of the overall strategy to recover salmon population levels.