In 1999, Chinook Salmon was listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). In response to this listing, local governments in the Puget Sound region formed the Tri County ESA Response Group to implement programs to conserve Chinook Salmon. The group identified several government agency programs with the potential to contribute to the conservation of Chinook Salmon. Road maintenance was identified as one of the programs.
Developing a Fish-Friendly Response Program
Under the Tri-County effort, a Technical Working Group-made up of road maintenance managers, technical staff, and biologists from local, state, and county governments-was formed. This working group developed a road maintenance program that would contribute to the recovery of Chinook Salmon while continuing to carry out road maintenance activities in a cost effective manner. In August of 2003, this road maintenance program was officially given Section 4 (d) protection by the National Marine Fisheries Service. The Regional Road Maintenance Program along with other information pertinent to the program can be found here.
Section 4 (d) Protection
Agencies following the program are protected from lawsuits by the National Marine Fisheries Service. The Planning and Public Works Department's Road Operations Division has adopted this program and has been using it for over six years. As a general rule, the program does not require extensive changes to how road maintenance activities are completed; in fact many activities are completed the same way they've always been done. The timing of the activity is many times the only thing that is changed.
How Our Program Has Changed
We now employ Best Management Practices or BMP(s) for all maintenance activities. Extra attention is given to activities that disturb soils since these activities have the most potential to harm aquatic habitats. In addition, some activities are timed so that they are done during dry conditions. The Road Operations Division now tracks all maintenance activities and reports this information to the National Marine Fisheries Service every two years.