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King County Executive
Dow Constantine


Accelerating King County's work to remove barriers for returning salmon

Summary

A new position created by Executive Dow Constantine will coordinate the work King County is doing with Tribes, cities, state agencies, and other partners to remove barriers that prevent salmon from migrating to their historic habitat.

Story

Executive Dow Constantine recently created a new position to accelerate the work King County is leading to remove barriers for salmon returning to their native streams, a key part of his commitment to protecting and restoring the region’s clean water and healthy habitat. Many culverts that were built decades ago to pass water under roads and trails now prevent salmon from making it back to their home spawning grounds.

Evan Lewis, a fish biologist with more than 20 years of experience leading complex environmental and water resources projects, was selected for the new position. The Fish Passage Restoration Program coordinates across county departments and divisions – including Roads, Parks, and Stormwater – and will work closely with Tribes and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to prioritize projects. The county also will collaborate with cities and land owners to sequence projects within watersheds.

“With urgency and purpose, we are removing barriers to healthy habitat to ensure the survival of our region’s iconic salmon,” said Executive Constantine. “Having a highly respected program manager coordinate the work we are doing across county departments with Tribes and other partners will accelerate our effort, making it possible for more salmon to return to their native streams.”

Lewis, who most recently served as the Deputy Branch Chief at the Seattle District of Corps of Engineers, will lead the team that prioritizes culvert replacement projects. They will determine which culvert replacements will deliver the best results for salmon on the shortest timeline.

King County has a decades-long track record of working with partners to protect and restore habitat through watershed based-salmon recovery efforts. Even before a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that supported Treaty rights and required the state to replace culverts that blocked salmon streams, Executive Constantine directed the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks to improve fish passage by developing a strategy to remove and replace culverts.

Removing barriers to fish access is one of the best ways to quickly help salmon. Executive Constantine’s proposed 2019-2020 budget includes additional investments to accelerate county efforts to replace culverts and contribute to restoring salmon access to about 150 miles of historic stream habitat.

Improving fish passages throughout the region is part of Executive Constantine’s Clean Water, Healthy Habitat agenda.

Lewis earned degrees in biology from Union College in New York and in fisheries from the University of Washington, where he started his career. As the Deputy Branch Director at the Seattle District Corps of Engineers, he managed environmental aspects of civil works projects throughout the Pacific Northwest, including ecosystem restoration, flood protection, and improving fish passage. 

“I’m really excited to lead the county’s efforts on this important initiative that’s crucial for recovering salmon and steelhead in Puget Sound,” said Lewis. “I look forward to collaborating with Tribes, state Fish and Wildlife, and other partners to make progress on the ground quickly, while developing a robust plan for steady progress in the future."


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Quotes

With urgency and purpose, we are removing barriers to healthy habitat to ensure the survival of our region’s iconic salmon. Having a highly respected program manager coordinate the work we are doing across county departments with Tribes and other partners will accelerate our effort, making it possible for more salmon to return to their native streams.

Dow Constantine, King County Executive

I’m really excited to lead the county’s efforts on this important initiative that’s crucial for recovering salmon and steelhead in Puget Sound. I look forward to collaborating with Tribes, state Fish and Wildlife, and other partners to make progress on the ground quickly, while developing a robust plan for steady progress in the future.

Evan Lewis, Manager of the King County Fish Passage Restoration Program

For more information, contact:

Chad Lewis, Executive Office, 206-263-1250


King County Executive
Dow Constantine
Dow constantine portrait

Read the Executive's biography