This paper describes an ecosystem approach (the Bradbury framework) to prioritizing watersheds for watershed restoration and salmon recovery, and gives an example of its application. The framework was applied at three spatial scales (in descending order) to prioritize (1) river basins within the north coast geographic area of Oregon (USA), (2) watersheds within the Tillamook Bay basin, and (3) restoration activities at the watershed level. Implementing the framework identified the Nehalem and Tillamook Bay basins as high priority for the north coast of Oregon. Within the Tillamook Bay basin, the Wilson, Kilchis, and Trask river watersheds emerged as high priority. Preliminary analysis indicated that controlling sediment sources by addressing upland road conditions and allowing floodplain and riparian ecosystems to recover are highest priority protection and restoration activities within the Tillamook Bay basin. The sample application demonstrates that an ecosystem approach (the Bradbury framework) is particularly advantageous where data are limited, although previous identification of relatively intact areas is required. Implementing the framework is intended to lead to restoration of native species, but it may not provide immediate assistance for some species or populations of concern.