From the Director

We must not be afraid to push boundaries; instead, we must leverage our science and our technology, together with our creativity and our curiosity, to solve the world’s most pressing problems.Jason Silva

This summer we all watched, transfixed, as a mother mourned.

Never has the plight of southern resident killer whales been so visible and undeniable. Never has the orca’s cry for salmon, the very sustenance it depends on for survival, reverberated so broadly. For us, it meant digging in even deeper to the work we do to restore salmon and steelhead populations for all.

We are experiencing fragile times in the Salish Sea. Orca whales and salmon—our twin icons—are but two casualties of the battering forces of population growth, human development, and climate change. Better understanding of the many threats facing these beloved species will be essential to helping them recover.

To build that understanding and restore abundant populations of salmon and orcas, we must appreciate the importance, and limitations, of scientific research; be agile in response to emerging information; be willing to act boldly, even in the face of uncertainty; and quickly bring together the resources, people, and political will to drive real results. These are the hallmarks of LLTK’s work.

We identify key problems impacting salmon recovery, then help to advance scientific understanding of those problems and align what’s needed to facilitate swift, effective, strategic solutions. Our approach is to work with others, be efficient, and ensure the widest possible support.

And it is resulting in significant gains:

  • We’re poised to witness the delisting of Hood Canal summer chum, including the Lilliwaup Creek and Hamma Hamma River populations LLTK recovered: now returning by the thousands, compared to only a handful of fish a decade ago.
  • Spring Chinook are returning to the North Fork Skokomish River for the first time in 65 years as a result of our partnership with Tacoma Power and the Skokomish Nation.
  • Our investigations at the Hood Canal Bridge are shining new light on how infrastructure plays a role in high marine mortality and what we can do to improve it.
  • Survive the Sound, our interactive game offering salmon enthusiasts of all ages the chance to track out-migrating steelhead in real time, exploded this year with thousands of students participating.
  • The international Salish Sea Marine Survival Project, which we spearheaded with Canada’s Pacific Salmon Foundation, is solving the riddle of high salmon and steelhead mortality in the Salish Sea, providing resource managers with the information they need to boost salmon survival and ensure a bountiful food supply for orcas.

LLTK’s work sets science into action, demonstrating what is possible when research is translated into tools we can all use to advance toward salmon recovery. We are putting healthy fish into Northwest waters, improving understanding of the obstacles facing their survival, and engaging the public in stewardship on their behalf.

Going into 2019, we carry with us many satisfying successes. But the loss of Tahlequah’s calf in August and another of J pod’s calves, Scarlet, in September, affirmed what we already knew instinctively—it is not enough. For 17 days Tahlequah told a story that no human words, or annual report, could adequately convey: We must do more. This is our home, and it would never be the same without our orcas and our salmon.

We invite you to join us.

Jacques White, LLTK Executive Director


Our Impact

Runs Fully Recovered
Fish/yr for Harvest
Fish Returned
Visitors Annually

Work Highlights

Click on a work area below to learn how Long Live the Kings is building a future that balances the needs of orca whales, salmon, and people.



I’ve had the pleasure of partnering with LLTK to obtain operational and maintenance funding for the Ballard Locks, and what we’ve been able to accomplish is an extraordinary example of coalition work at its best.Charles Costanzo, American Waterways Operators

How does the built environment impact the natural one?

For migrating salmon, big infrastructure can have unintended but serious impacts to survival. By improving understanding about why salmon don’t make it at these obstacles—or how their migration is hindered—we are helping to develop, build support for, and implement successful solutions.

2018 Project Highlight: Ballard Locks Improvements

The Ballard Locks are the 3rd most visited tourist attraction in Seattle, a place where visitors and residents alike can go to watch boats pass, see adult salmon return at the fish ladder, and connect with salmon and our region’s maritime culture. In the Lake Washington/Cedar/Sammamish watershed, the Locks are also the single biggest passage threat for out-migrating smolts and returning adult salmon. Steelhead have all but disappeared from this watershed, due in part to mortality at passage barriers like the Locks, and we want to prevent that from happening to Chinook, coho and the only central Puget Sound run of sockeye.

LLTK is working with partners such as American Waterways Operators, commercial fishing interest groups, marina owners and other maritime interests in the Ship Canal to make sure salmon recovery is included as the Locks are improved.

In 2018, LLTK worked with a coalition to secure $23 million for the Army Corps to fix the filling culvert in the large lock. Once complete, operations will result in more juvenile salmon surviving the outmigration, and a 101-year old piece of infrastructure will continue safely moving cargo, the Alaska fishing fleet and recreational boaters. Result: A proactive coalition advocating for improvements at the Locks that will benefit industry and salmon alike.

2018 Impact:

  • $13M secured for Ballard Locks improvements
  • $5M additional funds secured for Pacific Coast Salmon Recovery Fund for fish passage and other improvements
  • 2 of 8 public safety and salmon passage upgrades funded
  • LLTK is one of ten in a diverse coalition of advocates working toward Ballard Locks improvements

Learn More: 



A success story in the making, the impressive progress of summer chum recovery in Hood Canal suggests that delisting is actually possible, and in the very near future. LLTK’s work has contributed in major ways: the organization’s comprehensive approach has helped to measurably rebuild summer chum populations, while also deepening our understanding of the species’ spacial diversity, behavior, distribution, and productivity. The result is not just one restored salmon stock, but restored hope.Scott Brewer, Hood Canal Coordinating Council

Rebuilding populations; restoring hope.

For more than 30 years, LLTK has shown how hatcheries—when driven by science—can contribute meaningfully to aquatic ecosystems, salmon recovery, and sustainable fisheries without endangering wild stocks. Our programs rescue once-imperiled populations from the brink of extinction, support fishers, uphold tribal rights to fish, and help feed and save hungry orca whales.

2018 Project Highlights:

Our work centers on the use of conservation hatcheries for short periods of time: until near-extinct populations have been rebuilt to once again be self-sustaining. We then stop supplementation when the wild population has reached its goal.

Hood Canal Summer Chum

In 2018 we were able to cease summer chum supplementation entirely in Lilliwaup Creek. Combined with previous success in rebuilding stocks in the Hamma Hamma River, and the work we’ve done with our partners to recover additional populations across the greater basin, we are now equipped to expand what we’ve learned and help push Hood Canal summer chum recovery over the finish line. Result: Nearing removal from the Endangered Species Act list.

North Fork Skokomish Chinook

Utilizing our facility on Lilliwaup Creek, we’ve worked with Tacoma Power and the Skokomish Nation to begin recolonizing a river in which spring Chinook were previously extinct. Result: First adults returning to the North Fork Skokomish in 65 years.

Hood Canal Steelhead Project

LLTK, in partnership with NOAA Fisheries and six other entities, has tested low-impact, time-limited hatchery supplementation to boost Hood Canal steelhead—a population once teetering on extinction. The lessons ultimately will provide crucial information about using hatcheries as conservation tools throughout the Northwest. Result: Nearing recovery of Hood Canal steelhead.

2018 Impact:

  • 20x summer chum returning to Hamma Hamma River
  • 1st Chinook returning to Skokomish River in 65 years
  • 28x summer chum returning to Lilliwaup Creek
  • 5k Chinook contributed to sustain fisheries and orca whales

Learn More:



As we all enjoy the benefits of a healthy ecosystem—clean water, fresh air, plentiful food supplies—we are also obligated to move through our world with mindfulness of our impact. As an educator, I strive to help my students develop awareness about the effects of our activities on our environment. Survive the Sound provided a fun, free, and accessible way to bring the value of ecosystem stewardship right into my classroom. It was a huge hit with my students!Jakki Smack, Horizons Elementary

Building a new generation of salmon advocates.

Whether we fish for them, honor them in ceremony, depend on them for our livelihood, or watch them spawn in neighborhood streams, we are all salmon stakeholders and we all have a part to play in their recovery. By crafting compelling new ways for the public to engage with salmon, LLTK is building a new generation of advocates.

Project Highlight: Survive the Sound

After a successful beta year in 2017, we launched our interactive challenge, Survive the Sound in 2018, along with a brand new educational toolkit for classrooms, developed in partnership with NOAA. Across the Northwest, students followed along as their sponsored steelhead battled for survival in a harrowing 12-day migration to the Pacific. Using real tracking data from actual out-migrants, participants watched as their heroes encountered bridges and blockages, predators, boats, disease, and other obstacles. Some survived, most didn’t, but everyone learned about the realities facing salmon and steelhead in the Salish Sea. Result: Thousands of kids and adults had fun learning about challenges facing juvenile steelhead.

2018 Impact:

  • ~ 30,000 students engaged
  • 20+ placements in TV and print media
  • 7M+ impressions
  • $110K in new donations

Learn More:

Stakeholder Stories

Click on the names below to expand the personal stories of some of the stakeholders who support Long Live the Kings’ work.


SCOTT BREWER, Hood Canal Coordinating Council


As a Pacific Northwest resident, I’m concerned about the impacts on our environment of factors like human population growth, development, and climate change. As a professional working in salmon and ecosystem recovery, I’m reminded of these concerns daily, and I also have the unique opportunity to—hopefully—contribute in some way toward mitigating them. While the successes can sometimes seem few and far between, we are seeing something now that provides a bright spot, restoring my hope and my motivation: the promising recovery of Hood Canal Summer Chum.

Many organizations, entities, community groups and citizens have been involved in moving summer chum recovery forward. LLTK has contributed in several important ways: providing supplementation services at their Lilliwaup hatchery, contributing to the body of knowledge needed to understand the efficacy of investments being made for summer chum and other Hood Canal stocks through the Salish Sea Marine Survival Project, helping to improve awareness about the effects of infrastructure through the Hood Canal Bridge Assessment, and testing and demonstrating new scientific techniques for salmonid restoration via the Hood Canal Steelhead Project.

LLTK’s comprehensive approach, anchored by on-the-ground results, and buoyed by inventive, credible science, reaffirms the amazing abilities and traits inherent in salmon themselves—resiliency and adaptation—and reinforces that recovery is in fact possible. Because the ripple effects of this work will reach other co-habitating species like Chinook and coho, a healthy future for Hood Canal salmon is once again in sight.

JAKKI SMACK, Horizons Elementary


I have lived in Lacey all of my adult life and I’ve watched the area become more and more developed and populated. This increase in population can be seen everywhere—from traffic to local camping spots to those areas on the river or the lake shores where we go to cool off, relax, and enjoy the peacefulness of nature.

While I understand that progress is inevitable, I think it is crucial for every person to be mindful of their impact on the natural world we share. There is a deep sadness when I see a stand of trees cut down for an apartment complex or a housing development; when I see trash lining the river banks and broken glass on the river beds; when I notice “rainbow” colored streaks in the water from sunscreens, or chemical run-off flowing into storm drains.

By getting involved with LLTK’s Survive the Sound campaign, which provided free resources to educators, including fish to monitor, educational guides aligned to Next Generation Science Standards, and a playful “game” format, I discovered a new way to bring awareness to my students of their local ecosystems. In turn, they became emotionally invested in their fish, following along excitedly as these migrating steelhead sought to make it alive to the Pacific Ocean. It’s this emotion, I believe, that plants a seed in young minds; an impassioned sense of care and respect for our environment. They will carry this with them as they grow and develop into informed citizens.

One of my students was interviewed about Survive the Sound by Q13 News. When asked if she would have cared or even thought about the salmon and their habitat before this, the student said no, but that she would now, because ‘my teacher made it fun to learn about.’ This is what Survive the Sound provided me: a compelling way for my students to connect and engage with one another and with ecosystem stewardship.

For me personally, the experience of participating in Survive the Sound has reinforced decisions I make in my daily life, from the products I buy, to my water usage, to my own behaviors when enjoying our state parks and waterways. It is important to me not only to teach these values but to model them. LLTK and Survive the Sound gave me a wonderful platform to utilize. I look forward to incorporating it into my curriculum every year.


CHARLES COSTANZO, American Waterways Operators


I grew up on Long Island Sound, in Connecticut. Forty years ago, the state issued a lot of commercial lobster permits. But these days Connecticut doesn’t really issue commercial lobster permits anymore, because Long Island waters are too warm and acidic to support a commercial harvest. While I believe that we’ve made tremendous strides to clean up the day-to-day mess that humans make in our environment—things like stormwater and pollution—we haven’t shown nearly the collective discipline to slow climate change.

Here in the Northwest, I worry about snowpack, long heat waves, huge wildfires, and other climate change effects on our watersheds. I’m concerned about what these changes mean for migrating wildlife like Pacific salmon, which must make their way through diverse ecosystems and circumstances in order to complete their life cycles and reproduce.

As the west coast tugboat and barge industry representative for the American Waterway Operators (AWO), I’ve learned that infrastructure like the Ballard Locks, while providing important benefits to maritime navigation, can also pose serious risks to migrating salmon. Funding for much-needed maintenance at facilities like the Locks is essential to the success and effectiveness of my industry and also to assuring the salmon’s safe passage.

In 2018, AWO and LLTK—along with other stakeholders—worked collaboratively to educate legislators about the importance of the Locks, and then successfully lobbied Congress to budget and appropriate 47% more funds than the highest amount the Locks has ever received in a work plan. The resulting improvements will not only strengthen the movement of maritime freight but will also decrease salmon mortality and boost recovery. The maritime community gets a more reliable facility and the fish will be more likely to survive. It’s a win-win!



Thank you to our 2018 project partners. For a complete list of our 2017 individual, corporate, and in-kind donors, please download our printed

2018 Long Live the Kings Annual Report


American Rivers

American Waterways Operators

Anthony’s Restaurants


City of Bellingham

City of Seattle

Dukes Chowder House

Environmental Protection Agency

Environmental Science Associates

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Groundfish Forum

Hama Hama Company

Hook Environmental

Jefferson County

King County

Kitsap County


Lake Washington/Cedar/Sammamish Watershed (WRIA 8)

Lilliwaup Falls Generating Company

Lummi Nation

Mason County

Moran State Park

National Fish and Wildlife Foundation

Nisqually Tribe

NOAA Fisheries

Nooksack Tribe

Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission

Northwest Marine Trade Association

Ocean Networks Canada

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Pacific Northwest Salmon Center

Pacific Salmon Foundation

Paul G. Allen Philanthropies

Point-No-Point Treaty Council

Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe

Port of Seattle

Puget Sound Partnership & Salmon Recovery Council


Robbins Family

RPS Evans Hamilton

San Juan County

Seattle City Light

Skagit River System Cooperative

Skagit Watershed Council

Skokomish Tribal Nation


Snohomish County

Squaxin Island Tribe

Stillaguamish Tribe

Suquamish Tribe

Stewardship Partners

Tacoma Power

The Nature Conservancy

The SeaDoc Society

Tulalip Tribes

University of British Columbia

University of Victoria

University of Washington

US Fish and Wildlife Service

US Forest Service

US Geological Survey

US Navy

Washington Department of Ecology

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

Washington Department of Natural Resources

Washington Department of Transportation

Washington Environmental Council

Washington Salmon Coalition

Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office / Governor’s Salmon Recovery Office

Washington Sea Grant

Western Washington University

Wild Fish Conservancy

YMCA Camp Orkila


Support | Expenses

Support: $2,753,508  |  Expenses: $2,826,973

      Financial information from 2017 Federal 990 Report


      Sources of Support

      International Commission: $388,678

      Federal Government: $227,095

      State Government: $704,501

      Other Government (including Tribes): $106,663

      Foundations: $567,603

      Nonprofits: $13,185

      Private: $745,783

       Learn More:

      Read our 2018 Printed Annual Report|  Meet our Board | Meet our Staff

      Be Part of Salmon Recovery


      Your gift to LLTK is an investment in the future of salmon. The return on that investment is healthy wild fish swimming in wild rivers, amidst a growing human population and a vibrant economy. Make your tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you.