Restoration of Salmon and Steelhead Habitat on the West Coast

In Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and California, 28 populations of salmon and steelhead are listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) because of habitat loss and over harvesting.

In Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and California, 28 populations of salmon and steelhead are listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) because of habitat loss and over harvesting. Through habitat restoration, we work to undo the damage done to coastal wetlands, shellfish beds, and salmon-bearing streams.

Nearly half of the historical tidal wetlands have disappeared from Oregon's coastal estuaries, while in Puget Sound more than 80 percent of tidal wetlands have been lost and vast areas of floodplain wetlands have been cut off from rivers by levees or filled for development. In California, nearly 90 percent of the extant wetlands have been lost from habitat destruction, mainly spurred by a booming population and economic development. We work with our partners to reconnect these marshes and floodplains to tidal or riparian waters and to restore habitat. We restore spawning and rearing habitats for fish and improve fish passage by removing dams or replacing undersized culverts.

Restoration Project Proposals

Complying with the Endangered Species Act

The purpose of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is to conserve threatened and endangered species and their ecosystems. A species is considered endangered if it is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range. The listing of a species as endangered makes it illegal to "take" (harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, collect, or attempt to do these things) that species. Similar prohibitions usually extend to threatened species. See our ESA-listed species on the West Coast. For non-marine species, contact the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Federal agencies may be allowed limited take of species through interagency consultations with NOAA Fisheries. Non-federal individuals, agencies, or organizations may have limited take through special permits with conservation plans. Effects to the listed species must be minimized and in some cases conservation efforts are required to offset the take.

To comply with ESA, begin with the following questions. Does your activity involve:

  • Construction or other project in a body of water, along the bank of a water body, or that discharges any materials into a body of water where there are listed species?
  • Trapping, hauling or collection broodstock of a listed fish?

If you answered yes to either of the above questions, then you may need a consultation or permit. Next consider the following questions:

  • Does your project receive any federal funding? Does it require a permit from another federal agency? If so, there is a federal "nexus" and you should contact the federal agency involved regarding a potential Endangered Species Act Section 7 consultation.
  • If there is no federal nexus, you still may need a permit or authorization under the Endangered Species act. Visit our permits and authorizations page to learn more.

Technical Resources

Last updated by West Coast Regional Office on September 27, 2019