Lands Commissioner Candidate Steve McLaughlin Announces Plan to Improve Salmon Streams

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Says salmon are too important to leave funding to whims of the legislature or Congress, as opponent has suggested.

Says salmon are too important to leave funding to whims of the legislature or Congress, as opponent has suggested.

Highlighting the critical value of working forests for salmon protection, Steve McLaughlin announced his plan to open streams for salmon habitat across the state.

“As Executive Officer of Naval Base Everett, I worked closely with the Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians to bring salmon back to a stream and as Lands Commissioner, I will do that for the state,” said McLaughlin. “This is an important difference between me and my opponent – I will support sustainable funding for salmon recovery and her shortsighted actions will cut it.”

Currently, there are more than fifty culverts on state forestlands that block salmon habitat. In addition, older culverts need to be upgraded and repaired over time.

McLaughlin will take three important steps to open salmon streams:

  • First, he will protect revenue from forestry on state lands to remove and repair blockages to salmon habitat and ensure state lands meet the 2021 deadline to fix any barriers.
  • Second, he will dedicate a portion of the state’s management fee – currently 29% of revenue – for managing state and county lands to improve salmon habitat and support state efforts to fix culverts.
  • Third, working with tribes, salmon fishermen and legislators, he will develop a sustainable source of revenue to remove salmon barriers on roads and other lands.

“Over the last 15 years, hundreds of miles of salmon habitat have been opened because we had the sustainable source of revenue to fix culverts and other issues in our streams,” said McLaughlin. “By contrast, the State Department of Transportation and the federal government are far behind, putting salmon at risk and hoping the Legislature or Congress will find new funding. Our salmon are too important to risk on the whims of the legislature or Congress.”

His opponent, Hillary Franz, has promised to reduce revenue from state lands, which would reduce revenue to fix salmon streams. To replace lost funding from timber harvests, Franz has said she would support new taxes or that she hoped Congress would increase funding.

McLaughlin’s work on salmon has been recognized by environmental advocates and tribal leaders.

“The Stillaguamish people worked with you in your position as Executive Officer of Naval Base Everett to restore Chinook Salmon to a stream for the first time since World War II,” said Chairman of the Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians Shawn Yanity. “Steve has the hands-on leadership experience and conservation ethic to lead the Department of Natural Resources for all citizens.”

Steve McLaughlin is a lifelong conservationist and avid climber, hiker, hunter, and fisher. As a career naval officer, McLaughlin led complex organization with thousands of employees. He oversaw both forestlands and aquatic lands for the U.S. Navy (Everett Homeport has 5,000 acres of timber and extensive tidelands) and helped conserve one of the last stands of old growth in lowland Western Washington. McLaughlin is supported by labor unions, Native Americans, farm and business groups, and veterans, among others.

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Cindy Mitchell
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