Climate Change: Chehalis River & Grays Harbor Estuary
Washington state continues to show leadership by incorporating climate change into salmon conservation planning both because of the severity of the threat to wild salmonids and to avoid funding conservation projects that might be undermined by climate change (for example, shoreline restoration projects may need to take into account the anticipated sea level rise to remain feasible). For these reasons, as part of our , we decided it was important to include modeling sea level rise (SLR) in an effort to anticipate future habitat loss as well as planning for inundation and the creation of new habitats beneficial to juvenile fish - See the report. Using recently available, highly accurate LiDAR elevation data, we ran a Sea Level Affecting Marshes Model (SLAMM) under 3 SLR scenarios (59 cm, 75cm, and 1 meter) to model habitat change from the present to the year 2100. These data indicate a dramatic decline in forested swamp land and tidal mud flats, with a concurrent increase in salt marshes if the shoreline is not armored. The results have been shared with Grays Harbor County to assist with future property acquisition and planning so that juvenile fish habitat in the estuary is preserved in the future, offsetting the losses due to inundation.