The Wild Steelhead Coalition’s (WSC) mission is to restore wild steelhead populations in their native watersheds to levels that provide self-sustaining runs, stable fisheries, and contribute economic vitality to local communities. Since its founding in 2001 the WSC has provided leadership to protect wild steelhead, support important steelhead research, provide policy input to various governmental agencies, and partner with others to share what we’ve learned and identify best recovery practices.
The WSC is a science-based organization and we have supported a variety of original research to help fill the many gaps in our knowledge of these extraordinarily complex anadromous fish. In 2008, the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife adopted a Statewide Steelhead Management Plan that defined the protection and restoration of wild steelhead as its overriding objective. We are implementing a new project to monitor progress against that Plan and provide an annual ‘report card’ to the Washington Fish & Wildlife Commission. In addition, WSC members serve on a variety of agency committees including the Steelhead and Cutthroat Public Advisory Committee. In 2002, the WSC founded a collaborative international Steelhead Summit conference in Seattle and Portland which we continue to sponsor. We also work with the UW School of Fisheries to fund master and doctoral candidate research. The WSC addresses habitat restoration issues by proving funding to organizations with expertise in that area, such as the Skagit River System Cooperative.
Reason for Participating on the Skagit Watershed Council
The Skagit River is the largest in Puget Sound and the 3rd largest on the West Coast between Canada and Mexico. Much of the river passes through beautiful and pristine wilderness and the upper Skagit and Sauk are designated as a Wild & Scenic River. The Skagit River once held abundant steelhead runs which provided economic and cultural benefits to both the tribes and local communities—and attracted anglers from all of North America and Europe. Because much of the watershed remains relatively undeveloped, the WSC believes that the Skagit Watershed holds great opportunity for wild steelhead recovery and can become an example for other watersheds. The WSC also values inclusion and collaboration—values reflected in the diverse membership of the Watershed Council which mirror the diversity of the watershed itself, from mountain to sound.