Northwest Fisheries Science Center

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Document Type: Journal Article
Center: NWFSC
Document ID: 5194
Title: Pacific salmon recovery planning and the salmonid watershed analysis model (SWAM): a broad-scale tool for assisting in the development of habitat recovery plans
Author: E. Ashley Steel, L. Johnston, Blake E. Feist, G. R. Pess, R. E. Bilby, D. Jensen, T. J. Beechie, James M. Myers
Publication Year: 2003
Journal: Endangered Species Update
Volume: 20
Issue: 1
Pages: 3-15

Pacific salmon in the lower 48 states, once numbering in the millions, are now counted by the thousands, the hundreds, and the tens (NRC, 1996).  In the early 1990s, the National Marine Fisheries Service (also referred to as NOAA Fisheries), part of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, was petitioned to list several salmon populations as endangered or threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA).  As a result, status assessments were conducted for all anadromous Pacific salmon populations that migrate between the Pacific Ocean and their natal streams in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and California.  From these status assessments, NOAA Fisheries scientists identified 52 evolutionarily significant units (ESUs), the smallest population unit that can receive federal protection under the ESA.  Of these 52 ESUs, 26 have been listed as endangered or threatened.  Furthermore, it is estimated that scores of historic populations have become extinct.  In this article, we provide a brief overview of salmonid life-history patterns and the importance of salmonids to the culture and ecology of the Pacific Northwest.  We describe the recovery planning framework for salmonids, with an emphasis on the habitat components of recovery planning, and we present in detail one new tool, the Salmonid Watershed Analysis Model (SWAM), that has been applied as an early step in developing habitat recovery plans for many of the basins in which listed salmonids live. 

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