Natural resource management has traditionally been organized within discrete land, water, and fishery resource sectors. However, emerging environmental problems often cross these boundaries, and managers have struggled to find effective planning approaches for multi-resource concerns. No case better exemplifies these challenges than efforts to ensure sufficient flows of water for salmon in the Pacific Northwest. In this study, we investigate the organizational experiences of collaborative water and salmon recovery planning groups in the Puget Sound region of Washington. Using conceptual frameworks from organizational sociology, we examine how different regulative, normative, and cultural-cognitive institutional forces shape the structure and behavior of both water and salmon recovery planning groups. Data obtained through content analysis of planning documents and interviews with natural resource planners illustrate that legal structures, shared intra-group norms, and the distinct organizational cultures of water and salmon recovery groups constrain these organizations' ability to address linked water-for-salmon concerns. These findings illustrate that assessing institutional and organizational arrangements may be equally as important as understanding hydrology and biology when attempting to forward an integrated approach to water and fisheries management.