The Washington Salmon Recovery Funding Board on Monday announced the award of nearly $30 million in grants to organizations around the state to help improve the lot of salmon.
“These grants do two things: They provide needed money for local organizations to help repair damaged rivers and streams and protect the most pristine areas,” said Don “Bud” Hover, chair of the state funding board. “They also create jobs. They will put people to work improving the environment and restoring something that is important to Washington’s economy: salmon.”
A Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife study in 2006 pegged the economic impacts of commercial and recreational fishing in Washington as supporting an estimated 16,374 jobs and $540 million in personal income. This new round of grants is expected to provide more than 300 jobs during the next four years.
Grants were given to organizations in the following counties. See details on each grant at:
Okanogan County -- $656,287;
Pacific County -- $485,989;
Pend Oreille County -- $360,000;
Pierce County -- $2,970,987;
San Juan County -- $405,830;
Skagit County -- $2,298,337;
Skamania County -- $47,306;
Snohomish County -- $2,497,397;
Thurston County -- $473,714;
Wahkiakum County -- $361,505;
Walla Walla County -- $1,131,220;
Whatcom County -- $1,500,119;
Yakima County -- $508,887;
Multiple Counties -- $1,210,450;
Asotin County -- $132,160;
Chelan County -- $1,296,713;
Clallam County -- $2,447,641;
Clark County -- $925,383;
Columbia County -- $265,720;
Cowlitz County -- $1,080,806;
Grays Harbor County -- $787,869;
Island County -- $1,010,949;
Jefferson County -- $1,803,600;
King County -- $1,829,624;
Kitsap County -- $366,735;
Kittitas County -- $585,813;
Klickitat County -- $718,400;
Mason County -- $1,624,289.
The projects will reconnect rivers and streams, replace failing pipes that block fish passage and replant riverbanks with the goal of improving places salmon use to reproduce and grow on their way to and from to the ocean.
“Salmon recovery does more than just help salmon, it also helps the many businesses dependent on healthy fish populations,” said Hover, who also is an Okanogan County commissioner. “There are many families that rely on salmon, from your mom-and-pop tackle shops to your large commercial fishing fleets. They all need salmon and trout populations to be healthy and harvestable.”
Salmon populations in Washington have been declining for generations. In 1991, the federal government declared the first salmon, Snake River sockeye, as endangered and thus protected under the Endangered Species Act. By the end of that decade, populations had dwindled so much that salmon and bull trout were listed as threatened or endangered in three-quarters of the state. Those listings set off a series of activities including the formation of the Salmon Recovery Funding Board to oversee the investment of state and federal funds for salmon recovery.
Local watershed groups, called lead entities, are local consortiums that include tribes, local governments, nonprofits and citizens all working together to spearhead local salmon recovery efforts. They encourage and review project proposals and make decisions about which projects to forward to the Salmon Recovery Funding Board for funding.
The projects are based on regional recovery plans, which are approved by the federal government. Individual projects are reviewed by regional salmon recovery organizations and the state’s technical review panel to make sure each project will help recover salmon in the most cost-effective manner.
In the Columbia-Snake river basin portion of the state, project sponsors from the estuary up to the borders with British Columbia and Idaho are planning good works.
As an example, The Tri-State Steelheaders will use its $476,234 grant to begin restoration of the upper one-third of a Walla Walla River reach near Lowden. The group will remove a half-mile of levee on property owned by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife below McDonald Bridge. It will also place logs and tree root wads in the river. The logs will slow the river, creating pools and other types of habitat.
The work will create about 100 feet of off-channel habitat. Ultimately, the project will reduce confinement of the river, floodplain isolation and degraded habitat in the river and along its banks. The Walla Walla River is used by re-introduced spring chinook salmon. It also is used by summer steelhead and bull trout, all of which are listed as threatened. as well as sculpin, leopard dace and river lamprey. The Steelheaders will contribute $84,100 to the project project.
The Tri-State Steelheaders also won a $427,377 grant to complete final designs and construct fish passage improvements in a 285-foot-long section of what is known as reach type 6 on Mill Creek, near Walla Walla. In the 1940s, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built a concrete flume to house 2 miles of Mill Creek to reduce flooding in Walla Walla. Listed summer steelhead and bull trout have trouble passing through the flume.
Proposed passage improvements include modification of baffles to help fish get through, addition of resting pools to help tired fish make the journey and addition of surface roughness to slow the water during high flow. This will be the third of several projects to improve passage to high quality habitat in the upper Mill Creek watershed. Tri-State Steelheaders will contribute $75,500 in donations of cash.
The Methow Conservancy will use a $286,072 grant to buy conservation easements on nearly 60 acres along the upper Methow River, removing the possibility for development. Central Washington’s upper Methow River is a major spawning area for endangered spring chinook salmon and threatened steelhead, as well as being a core area for bull trout.
The first easement would cover about a half-mile of riverfront and a large side channel. A second easement would cover the floodplain, 980 feet of riverfront, a portion of Cold Creek and extensive wetlands. This project will add to other riverfront properties already conserved by the Methow Conservancy, protecting almost 24 miles of riverfront (including both sides of the river) along the 23-mile upper Methow River.
The easements would prohibit development permanently along the riverbanks, and habitat destruction by deeding development rights and habitat protection provisions to the conservancy. The conservancy will contribute $53,500 in donations of cash and land.
The Columbia Land Trust in partnership with the Yakama Nation Fisheries Program will use a $520,000 grant to remove fill and pull back a road to restore connectivity to the Klickitat River floodplain and soften the channel boundary along 1.7 miles of road. The partners also will replant the disturbed areas with native trees to improve the riverbank. This portion of the river has the greatest habitat complexity of any reach in the lower Klickitat River and provides critical spawning, migration and rearing habitat for listed winter and summer steelhead, as well as chinook and coho salmon. The project sponsors will contribute $92,175 from a grant.
In the Columbia River estuary, Columbia Land Trust will use a $150,000 grant to buy 420 acres of fish and wildlife habitat. All Columbia River salmon and steelhead, most of which are protected under the ESA, use the Columbia River estuary before migrating to the ocean.
The land is on Knappton Cove, between the Astoria-Megler Bridge and Naselle in Pacific County. The property consists of wetlands, tidelands, forest, three-quarters of a mile of Columbia River shoreline and eight small streams. The land is adjacent to 130 acres conserved by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, contributing to a conservation area totaling 550 acres with nearly two miles of Columbia River shoreline. The shoreline, streams, marsh and cove-sheltered tidelands provide places for salmon to feed and transition from freshwater to saltwater.
The forest and streams also provide cool water, nutrients, prey and large wood, which, when it falls in the river, creates places for salmon to rest and hide. The land trust will contribute $150,000 from a federal grant.
In the lower Columbia region, the Cowlitz Indian Tribe will use a $486,305 grant to remove an abandoned roadbed that inhibits full connectivity between Abernathy Creek and its floodplain, and place logjams in the creek to increase habitat. The tribe will excavate channel meanders through the former roadbed and place logjams in the main channel, allowing the river to meander, forming pools and riffles important to salmon and steelhead. This reach of Abernathy Creek is home coho, which are listed as threatened with extinction under the federal Endangered Species Act, and winter steelhead. The tribe will contribute $85,819 in donations of cash, donations of labor, donations of materials, grant
“This local, state and federal partnership has made Washington a national model in salmon recovery,” Hover said. “This process ensures that we are funding the projects that the local citizens want and that scientists agree will do the most to recover salmon.”
Funding for the grants comes from the federal Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund and from the sale of state bonds. In addition, nearly $11.6 million is dedicated to projects in Puget Sound, as part of Gov. Chris Gregoire’s initiative to restore the health of Puget Sound.
In 1999, the Washington Legislature created the Salmon Recovery Funding Board. The board provides grants to protect or restore salmon habitat and assist related activities. Composed of five citizens appointed by the governor, and five state agency directors, the board brings together the experiences and viewpoints of citizens and the major state natural resource agencies.
Established by citizen Initiative 215 in 1964, the Recreation and Conservation Funding Board helps finance recreation and conservation projects throughout the state. The eight-member board consists of five citizens appointed by the Governor, and three state agency directors.
More information about the two boards can be found online at www.rco.wa.gov