A Northwest nonprofit organization has been using Conservation Innovation Grants it was awarded in 2010 and 2011 by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to expand efforts to improve the health of the local salmon population.
Many people know that salmon can decrease the risk of coronary heart disease and certain cancers, and that salmon is a good source of many beneficial vitamins and healthy oils, such as Vitamin E, Vitamin C and Omega 3s (fatty acids essential for health).
But not many people know that salmon can be used as a benchmark to measure a watershed’s health. If salmon are thriving in a river or stream, the surrounding land is typically considered by scientists to be productive and healthy.
That’s why the nonprofit Salmon-Safe was established in Oregon in 1996. Salmon-Safe works with landowners, farmers and local conservation organizations in Washington, Oregon, California and British Columbia to promote conservation practices and habitat restoration. Over 65,000 acres of farmland have been deemed “salmon safe.”
“Salmon safe” farm operations adopt conservation practices that protect water quality and help restore wildlife habitat in salmon watersheds. These practices include efficient water use, integrated pest management (IPM) and soil conservation.
Salmon-Safe is a third-party certification program that utilizes professional inspectors with experience in both habitat conservation and sustainable agriculture. The Salmon-Safe label provides credibility, visibility and marketing opportunities for participating farms
In 2010, the Washington Water Project of Trout Unlimited (TU-WWP) received a Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) from NRCS to expand Salmon-Safe certification into eastern Washington. CIG-funded projects use innovative technologies and approaches to address natural resources issues.
With the grant, 15 farms transitioned over 6,000 acres to Salmon-Safe management practices. On these farms, Salmon-Safe has worked to eliminate or reduce the use of pesticides and implement other water quality practices, such as fencing, to keep pollutants out of the river. In exchange, these farms have earned the use of the Salmon-Safe label and are able to tap into the existing comprehensive marketing campaign in western Washington.
Due to the huge success of the first year of Salmon-Safe implementation in eastern Washington, In 2011, TU-WWP received another CIG. This will allow the program to continue its momentum and multiply certification throughout a broader region—helping to ensure that salmon will continue to thrive in northwest watersheds and beyond.
Find out more about Conservation Innovation Grants
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