Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Coast salish and U.S. Geological Survey: Tribal journey water quality project

December 1, 2008

The ancestral waters of the Coast Salish People, the Salish Sea, comprise a large inland sea contained within both United States (Puget Sound) and Canadian (Georgia Strait) territory. The Salish Sea is home to more than 220 species of fish, 29 species of marine mammals, more than 40 species of commercial and recreationally harvested invertebrates, and numerous resident and migratory bird species (Washington Sea Grant Program, 2000). Unfortunately, at least 60 of these marine based species are listed as threatened, endangered or of concern (Fraser and others, 2006), many of which sustained Coast Salish for millennia and are of essential cultural importance.
The cumulative impacts of human activities and climate change are deteriorating coastal ecosystems and accelerating the loss of ecologically and culturally important marine resources. Watershed modifications, coastal development and industrial activities are altering river and tidal flow, sediment transport, and nutrient delivery all across the region, leading to the break down of ecosystem functions and decreasing biodiversity, thus changing the face of the Salish Sea. A cooperative trans-boundary partnership between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and the Government of Canada has identified Salish Sea indicators of health. Several of these indicators have been noted as having degrading quality including urbanization and forest change, river, stream, and lake quality, marine species at risk, toxics in harbor seals, and marine water quality conditions (USEPA, 2008). The functioning of the Salish Sea ecosystem is increasingly threatened by ever more frequent observations and expanding zones of anoxia. The complexities of monitoring, protecting, and restoring such a large and diverse geographical area are exacerbated by a political border.
The Coast Salish Peoples and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) have commenced on a partnership to examine water quality throughout the Georgia Straits and Puget Sound, blending tradition and science, in response to this deterioration of coastal environments and loss of essential habitats and marine resources of cultural and ecological importance throughout the ancestral waters of the Salish Sea. This report describes the Coast Salish Tribal Journey Water Quality Project, its inception, the results of the 2008 Tribal Journey project, lessons learned, and recommendations for future directions.

Publication Year 2008
Title Coast salish and U.S. Geological Survey: Tribal journey water quality project
Authors Sarah K. Akin, Eric E. Grossman, Debra Lekanof, Charles J. O'Hara
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype Other Government Series
Index ID 70156104
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center