United for Salmon: Preserving the Pacific Northwest

Salmon is an important food source for many species of mammals and birds in the Pacific Northwest, including osprey. If salmon populations are healthy, so are the surrounding wildlife and populace. As salmon suffers, so does the entire ecosystem. Photo by Columbia Land Trust.

The Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic (LEX-NG) Fund aims to protect the last wild places in the ocean while facilitating conservation, research, education, and community development programs in the places we explore. This blog entry spotlights some of the exciting work our grantees are doing with support from the LEX-NG Fund.

By Angela M. Thomas

Here’s a question for you. What local resource has the greatest potential to unite people of the Pacific Northwest? I’ll give you a hint: it’s not coffee, the killer music scene, or rain.

It’s salmon.

That doesn’t sound right, you may be thinking. But in fact, people from all over the Pacific Northwestregardless of age, culture, vocation, or political affiliationare stakeholders in their local salmon populations; they all have something to fight for when it comes to preserving this critical species and its river habitats. Perhaps we all do.

Salmon is an important food source for many species of mammals and birds in the Pacific Northwest, including osprey. If salmon populations are healthy, so are the surrounding wildlife and populace. As salmon suffers, so does the entire ecosystem. Photo by Columbia Land Trust.

Salmon is an “indicator” species; declining salmon populations point to an ecosystem’s deteriorating health. All manner of wildlife, not to mention humans, depend on salmon as an important food source. Beyond consumption, the presence of salmon in riversand on land as decaying leftovers from predatorschanges the chemical makeup of the terrestrial habitats and their watersheds. With fewer salmon, the landscape of the Pacific Northwest is significantly altered.

If their impact on the environment isn’t a compelling enough reason to support salmon preservation, how about some economics. The freshwater spawning habitats of salmon contribute to a $3 billion-a-year salmon fishing industry in the Pacific ocean. If salmon can’t access upstream spawning habitats then there will be fewer salmon to —> Read More

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