Pierce County groups to receive $3.4M for salmon recovery

The Washington State Salmon Recovery Funding Board announced Dec. 15 the awarding of $42.8 million in grants to protect and restore salmon populations to communities across Washington. The grants from the Salmon Recovery Funding Board ranged from $17,000 to $1.7 million. The funding goes for big and small restoration and recovery projects across the state, including work ranging from planting trees along streams to cool the water for salmon, to replacing culverts that prevent salmon from migrating to spawning habitat, to restoring entire floodplains. Organizations in Pierce County are slated to receive $3.4 million.

The funding comes from the federal Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund and is matched by state funds from the sale of bonds. The funding for these grants was approved by Congress and the Washington Legislature earlier this year. On Thursday, Washington State received news that $80 million in 2010 federal funding for Washington and several other western states is in the final budget bill before Congress.

Grants in Pierce County include:

— Cascade Land Conservancy / $500,000 / Acquiring Devil’s Head Shoreline;

— Key Peninsula Metropolitan Park District / $238,046 / Protecting Dutcher Cove Shoreline;

— Pierce County Conservation District / $161,500 / Removing Knotweed in the South Prairie Creek Basin;

— Pierce County Noxious Weed Control Board / $133,000 / Removing Knotweed along the Nisqually River;

— City of Orting / $340,000 / Buying Land for the Calistoga Setback Levee;

— City of Orting / $200,000 / Designing the Calistoga Setback Levee;

— South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Group / $97,550 / Designing the Restoration of Ohop Creek;

— South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Group / $425,000 / Installing Logjams in the Clearwater River to Improve Salmon Habitat;

— City of Sumner / $200,000 / Conducting a Feasibility Study and Design of a Setback Levee on the White River;

— The Nisqually Indian Tribe / $1,165,573 / Protecting and Restoring the Mashel River at Eatonville;

Several populations of salmon were put on the federal list of endangered species in 1991. By then, the number of salmon had fallen to only 40 percent of historic levels in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and California. By 1999, almost three-fourths of Washington’s watersheds were affected by Endangered Species Act listings of salmon and bull trout. 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. Since 2000, the board has awarded nearly $404 million in grants, funded by federal and state dollars, for 1,307 projects. Grantees have contributed nearly $160 million in matching resources, bringing the total investment to more than $564 million.

For a complete list of all the grant recipients and more detailed information on their projects, visit http://www.rco.wa.gov/documents/SRFB/10th_Round/srfb_grants_county.pdf .

“Salmon are an important part of Washington’s economy and culture,” said Steve Tharinger, chairman of the Salmon Recovery Funding Board. “These grants are helping us reverse the decline in salmon populations we’ve seen over the past two decades. These grants are not only good for salmon, the environment and the people of Washington, but they are good for the economy because much of this money will be awarded to local organizations to do restoration work in their local communities.”