Volunteer / Cooperative Programs - Regional Fisheries Enhancement Groups (RFEG)
Date Published: 2010
Number of Pages: 77
The Regional Fisheries Enhancement Groups are a statewide network of non-profit community-based salmon enhancement organizations. In 1990, the Washington State Legislature created the Regional Fisheries Enhancement Group Program to involve local communities, citizen volunteers and landowners in the state’s salmon recovery efforts.
The 14 Regional Fisheries Enhancement Groups (RFEGs) share the unique role of involving communities in salmon enhancement activities across the state. The RFEGs have a common goal of enhancing salmonid populations and habitat in their regions and leveraging contributions and support from local communities. The RFEGs create dynamic partnerships with local, state and federal agencies, Native American tribes, local businesses, citizen groups and landowners. Through these collaborative efforts RFEGs help lead their communities in successful enhancement, restoration, assessment, education and monitoring projects.
Each RFEG works within a specific geographic region based generally on watershed boundaries (see map on page 10). Every group is a separate, non-profit organization led by their own board of directors and supported by their members. The RFEG Advisory Board, made up of citizens appointed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Director, advocates for and helps coordinate the efforts of the RFEG Program.
Individual donations and in-kind contributions from local community members and businesses are essential to the success of each RFEG. While partial funding for the RFEG Program comes from a portion of commercial and recreational fishing license fees and egg and carcass sales administered by the WDFW. Individual RFEGs also obtain many grants from other government and private entities. In recent years the RFEG Program has successfully worked with U.S. Representatives and Senators to secure funding from the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
During the 2008-2009 fiscal year, the RFEGs collectively completed 127 projects ranging from education and outreach to monitoring and, of course, on the ground salmon enhancement projects. RFEG volunteers donated over 60,000 hours to these salmon enhancement efforts in 2008-09. A third of the RFEGs participated in fish production projects, releasing 2.4 million fish into local watersheds. Thirty-seven fish passage improvement projects opened 50 miles of habitat for migrating salmon. Forty-two miles of habitat was enhanced and restored for salmonids and 83,500 salmon carcasses were returned to streams to add nutrients to local watersheds for juvenile salmon, bears, eagles and over 130 other species of wildlife.
Over a 14-year history, these accomplishments add up to:
- 2,927 total salmon projects;
- 1,010,669 volunteer hours;
- 66 million salmon released into Washington waters;
- 667 fish passage problems fixed;
- 758 miles of fish habitat opened;
- 455 additional miles of habitat restored;
- 808,571 fish carcasses placed back in streams for nutrient enhancement;
- $117 million in additional leveraged funding for salmon restoration efforts.
The RFEG program makes a special contribution to Washington’s salmon recovery efforts by:
- leveraging local and private money;
- promoting stewardship through volunteer involvement;
- working cooperatively with diverse interest groups; and,
- building on each year’s successes.