Salmon recovery projects awarded $3.4 million

The state Salmon Recovery Funding Board has awarded $3.4 million in grants for Pierce County watershed projects. The projects are intended to protect and preserve salmon species threatened by habitat loss in south Puget Sound.

The awards designate $1.5 million for the Puyallup Watershed, $1.6 million for the Pierce County portion of the Nisqually Watershed, and $290,000 for the Pierce County portion of the Kitsap Watershed. Project sponsors will contribute an additional $620,000, raising the total funding to over $4 million.

The five-member Salmon Recovery Funding Board, created by the Legislature in 1999, supports salmon recovery by providing grant funding for habitat protection and restoration projects. It also supports related programs and activities that produce sustainable and measurable benefits for fish and their habitat. The Board has provided financial assistance for more than 500 projects.

Pierce County is the Puyallup Watershed’s local coordinator (“lead entity”) for a citizens advisory committee appointed by the Pierce County executive and confirmed by the Pierce County Council. The Nisqually Tribe and Kitsap County are the lead entities for their respective watersheds. The citizen committees for each lead entity review and submit salmon recovery projects to the board each year to compete for funds.

In the most recent round of funding decisions, the Pierce County Lead Entity was the third highest funded of the 25 state lead entities. “We have a highly functioning program, given our similar success last year when we were recognized as the most improved lead entity of 2004,” said Dan Wrye, program supervisor in the Public Works & Utilities Water Programs Division.

The three Pierce County Lead Entity (Puyallup Watershed) projects funded include a 20-acre land acquisition and restoration on South Prairie Creek called Bee Spit Honey ($552,000), a 26-acre Soler Farms agricultural land acquisition/restoration project on South Prairie Creek ($398,000) and a Lower Boise Creek channel restoration project ($535,000).

Nisqually Watershed funded projects in Pierce County are the Manke Shoreline Acquisition ($276,000), Kist Shoreline Acquisition ($285,000) and Lower Ohop Creek Restoration ($1.1 million).

A Kitsap Watershed project in Pierce County, the Rocky Creek Barrier Replacement, received $290,000. Pierce County is providing matching funds and technical assistance to this project because it was identified as a priority need in the Key Peninsula/Islands Basin Plan.

“Essentially, we get a fully constructed project for the cost of design”, Wrye said.

Water Programs manager Harold Smelt said four of the Puyallup and Nisqually watershed projects deemed by the board to be of highest priority are floodplain land acquisitions. “Restoring habitat for salmon use is one of the best long-term strategies for fish recovery.

Plus, protecting floodplains provides other benefits such as natural flood control and water quality protection,” he said.