- Volunteer / Cooperative Programs
- Volunteer / Cooperative Programs -- Regional Fisheries Enhancement Groups (RFEG)
Published: May 2015
The Regional Fisheries Enhancement Groups (RFEGs) are a statewide network of non-profit communitybased salmon enhancement organizations. In 1990, the Washington State Legislature created the program as a grassroots approach to working with citizen volunteers and landowners to assist recovery of declining salmon populations. The purpose of the RFEG program is to engage local communities in restoring salmon and steelhead populations throughout Washington, and to enhance, restore and protect habitat for native stocks of fish.
Each RFEG works within a specific geographic region based generally on watershed boundaries (see map on page 6). Each group is an independent, non-profit organization led by their own board of directors and supported by their members and communities. The 14 RFEGs have a long history of leveraging additional support to implement on-the-ground enhancement projects in their regions. Volunteerism and dynamic partnerships with local, state and federal agencies, Native American tribes, local businesses, citizen groups and landowners are at the heart of success of the program. These grassroots partnerships efficiently extend the impact of base funding, often by 10- 1, by engaging diverse partners and citizens in conservation efforts and stewardship of their watersheds.
Support through volunteerism, individual donations, and in-kind contributions from community members and businesses are essential to the success of each RFEG. Base funding for the RFEG program comes from a grant from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, a portion of commercial and recreational fishing license fees, and excess egg and carcass sales administered by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. RFEGs also obtain many grants for projects from other government and private entities.
Washington Stateâ€™s population is expected to continue to grow over the next decade, impacting the natural ecosystems of watersheds. RFEGs are the non-regulatory, grassroots organizations that are responding to the possible effects of this growth on fish and their habitat. For almost 25 years, RFEGs have engaged communities in salmon enhancement programs. These partnerships, and dedicated volunteers, are a vital component of the RFEG program and the broader goals of salmon recovery.
RFEG Economic Impact
An investment in RFEGs pays out over generations both ecologically and economically. Projects designed to improve the health of local watersheds also provide economic benefits to our communities through job creation and local spending. RFEGs employ local business to provide a wide range of family-wage jobs that includes heavy equipment operators, truckers, accountants, landscape architects, biologists, planners, and engineers.
The outcomes of our projects extend far beyond the ecosystem of the watershed. A recent study1 found habitat restoration work generates approximately 23 jobs per $1 million of public investment. RFEGs employed over 50 full-time staff statewide and contributed to nearly 400 additional jobs in the workforce last year. Every dollar spent on salaries or supplies impacts communities across the state as each dollar cycles through other parts of the economy.
1 Nielsen-Pincus, M. and C. Moseley. 2010. "Economic and Employment Impacts of Forest and Watershed Restoration in Oregon." University of Oregon: Ecosystem Workforce Program, Working Paper Number 24.