Salmon Recovery

Chinook photo marine waters


San Juan County waters and shorelines are essential parts of the larger picture of salmon recovery in Puget Sound. The habitats found in the San Juan Islands significantly contribute to salmon abundance and diversity across the Puget Sound Region. The San Juans provide more than 400 miles of marine shoreline. This nearshore habitat serves as an important feeding and rearing environment for out-migrating juvenile Chinook and other salmon species that originate in northern Puget Sound and British Columbia. The islands are also a significant spawning and rearing area for juvenile forage fish (Pacific herring, surf smelt, and Pacific sand lance), which serve as an important prey source for salmon as they migrate through San Juan County waters on their way to the ocean.

The San Juan County Salmon Recovery Lead Entity Program is supported with funding from the Washington Salmon Recovery Funding Board and the Puget Sound Partnership. The Lead Entity is guided by a locally driven process to protect and restore habitats and ecosystem processes for wild salmon that depend on the San Juan Islands for any period of their life history. The Lead Entity is comprised of a Coordinator, a Citizen Advisory Group (CAG), and a Technical Advisory Group (TAG) with expertise in salmon habitat restoration. Local organizations, including San Juan County, submit salmon recovery project proposals to the Lead Entity on an annual basis. Guided by their local knowledge and expertise, TAG and CAG select salmon recovery projects for funding that have the greatest benefit to salmon, while also ensuring that projects are implemented in locations across San Juan County that have the highest likelihood of weathering the impacts of sea level rise and climate change.

CAG and TAG site visit at English Camp

CAG and TAG visiting a project site at English Camp in 2019


The original San Juan County Chapter of the Puget Sound Chinook Recovery Plan was an ecosystem based recovery plan supporting multiple salmon species with an emphasis on Puget Sound Chinook Salmon listed under the Endangered Species Act in 1999. In addition to creating an scientifically sound and politically supported strategy for the protection and recover of salmon populations in the San Juan Islands, the plan also identified and prioritized critical research needed to strengthen the effectiveness of salmon recovery efforts in San Juan County over time. In 2020, the Lead Entity embarked on a process to perform a comprehensive update to the original strategy that applies all of the research and science now available to identify revised goals and targets for protection and restoration of San Juan County's freshwater and nearshore areas over the next 50 years. The strategy update was completed early 2022 and can be found here.

Projects Underway:

Lopez Island:

    Agate Beach County Park Shoreline Restoration

MacKaye Harbor Beach Restoration

San Juan Island:

Jacksons Beach Restoration Design

Recently Completed:

Orcas Island:

West Beach Culvert Replacement (completed in 2020)

For a complete list of projects underway or completed by the County and other implementing partners, see the Salmon Recovery Portal