Pacific salmon and steelhead are much more than essential elements of a healthy Pacific Coast ecosystem; they are cultural icons woven into the fabric of local communities and economies. Salmon runs tie the region's people to the landscape, but pressures from a changing environment and human activities have compromised the strength of these runs. The Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund (PCSRF) was established by Congress in 2000 to reverse the declines of Pacific salmon and steelhead, supporting conservation efforts in California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Alaska. The program is essential to preventing the extinction of the 28 listed salmon and steelhead species on the West Coast and, in many cases, has stabilized the populations and contributed to their recovery course.
Guiding Restoration Through Science & Collaboration
PCSRF has catalyzed the development of a vibrant community of salmon restoration experts and fostered indispensable partnerships among landowners, local governments, and state, tribal, and federal agencies. The collaborative nature and strong scientific foundation of PCSRF restoration efforts ensure that funds are effectively and efficiently benefits salmon populations and their habitats.
NOAA Fisheries is the agency charged with administering PCSRF's competitive grants process. As of October 2019, we have awarded states and tribes a total of over $1.4 billion. The program has also leveraged nearly $1.7 billion in other non-PCSRF contributions. These investments have significant impacts on local economies and support local job development.
Stimulating Local Economies
Salmon restoration benefits fish populations and their habitats, but the value of these investments goes far beyond recovering threatened and endangered species. The financial investments in habitat restoration contribute to local communities and their economies. PCSRF grantees contract with local watershed groups, conservation agencies, land trusts, and other entities to manage habitat restoration projects. In turn, those agencies contract with local businesses and suppliers to carry out the work. These partners contribute funding on top of PCSRF dollars. This cost-sharing model increases the economic benefits realized in local communities.
The jobs and economic benefits of salmon restoration activities are largely realized in the local and rural communities. The vast majority of habitat restoration investments are spent in the state in which the project sponsor is located (approximately 90 percent), and in non-metropolitan counties over 60 percent is spent within the county (Bonner & Hibbard 2002, Nielsen-Pincus & Moseley 2013). These economic benefits are often localized and provide important stability to economically distressed communities. In Oregon alone, habitat restoration projects generated as many as 6,400 jobs and more than $977 million between 2001 and 2010 (Ecotrust 2012).
Several studies indicate that a $1 million investment in watershed restoration, of which PCSRF and matching funds play a significant role, creates between 13 and 32 jobs and $2.2 and $3.4 million in economic activity (Edwards et al 2013, Nielsen-Pincus & Moseley 2013, and Cullinane Thomas et al 2016).
With PCSRF funding and the jobs that it creates, states and tribes have undertaken over 13,700 projects, resulting in significant changes in salmon habitat conditions and availability. As of October 2019, access to nearly 1.1 million acres of spawning and rearing habitat has been restored and protected for salmon, and access to over 10,900 miles of previously inaccessible streams has been re-established.
BenDor T, Lester TW, Livengood A, Davis A, Yonavjak L. 2015. Estimating the Size and Impact of the Ecological Restoration Economy. PLoS ONE 10(6): e0128339. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0128339.
Bonner, K., and M. Hibbard. 2002. The economic and community effects of Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board Investments in Watershed Restoration. University of Oregon, Institute for a Sustainable Environment, Ecosystem Workforce Program, Briefing Papers.
Conathan, M., J. Buchanan, and S. Polefka. 2014. The economic case for restoring coastal ecosystems. Center for American Progress and Oxfam America. April
Cullinane Thomas, Catherine; Huber, Christopher; Skrabis, Kristin; and Sidon, Joshua. 2016. Estimating the economic impacts of ecosystem restoration—Methods and case studies. U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2016–1016, 98 p. http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/ofr20161016.
EcoTrust. 2012. Oregon's Restoration Economy: Investing in natural assets for the benefit of communications and salmon. https://ecotrust.org/media/WWRI-Restoration-Economy-Brochure.pdf
Edwards, P.E.T., A.E. Sutton-Grier and C.E. Coyle. 2013. Investing in nature: Restoring coastal habitat blue infrastructure and green job creation. Marine Policy 38:65-71.
Nielsen-Pincus, M., and C. Moseley. 2013. The Economic and Employment Impacts of Forests and Watershed Restoration. Restoration Ecology 21 (2), 207-214.
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