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"Nearshore" is most commonly defined as the backshore, intertidal and shallow subtidal areas of shoreline. In Washington, for example, the Shoreline Management Act defines the upland edge of this area to be 200 feet (61 m) behind the shoreline. Many groups also consider the nearshore to go fairly deep beyond the intertidal zone. While Puget Sound has enjoyed tremendous growth, the nearshore environment has declined. This environment is considered the "key to life in the Puget Sound estuary". More than 10,000 streams and rivers drain into Puget Sound. Approximately 1,800 miles (2,900 km) of shoreline surround the estuary, which is a mosaic of beaches, bluffs, deltas, mudflats and wetlands. A number of factors have been listed as potentially contributing to continued degradation of the nearshore environment. These include changing the nearshore by adding artificial structures, such as tide gates[clarification needed] and bulkheads; increased pollution from various sources, such as failing septic systems; and various impacts from agricultural and industrial activities. One-third of more than 4,000 kilometres (2,500 mi) of Puget Sound shoreline has been modified by some form of human development, including armoring, dredging, filling and construction of overwater structures. A variety of species rely upon the nearshore environment, such as salmonids. Research has shown that juvenile salmonids rely upon the entire marine nearshore environment, not just upon localized areas, as some had previously thought. The research concluded that juvenile salmon use a diverse array of nearshore habitat types that have been significantly altered by human development activities. It connected salmon and both land and aquatic environments, which serve to support salmon and other species in the nearshore. For example, the report affirmed that juvenile chinook depend on food from both marine riparian vegetation on land and shallow water habitats such as eelgrass. Other findings include: Juvenile chinook were found for extended periods of time in the nearshore and often used the shallow shoreline areas of Puget Sound. Juvenile chinook stocks are broadly distributed and intermix in central Puget Sound. Hatchery chinook are more abundant than wild chinook in the nearshore environment. Juvenile chinook have diverse diets that are a product of the diverse habitats which make up the nearshore ecosystem. Chinook appear to feed opportunistically on whatever prey are seasonally available, and change their diet from insects, marine plankton, and epibenthic organisms to a diet of fish at approximately 130-150 mm in size. Hatchery and wild chinook significantly overlap in space, time and diet in the marine nearshore. A variety of efforts are under way to improve the nearshore environment. These efforts work to improve education, planning and adaptive management, particularly with respect to local planning processes. Some of these efforts are: The Puget Sound Nearshore Partnership The Washington Department of Natural Resources, Nearshore Program Puget Sound Conservation and Recovery Plan Washington State's Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Plan, 2005.


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