State Awards $14.6 million for Salmon Recovery Projects statewide

OLYMPIA – The Washington Salmon Recovery Funding Board today announced the award of $14.6 million in grants for projects to...

Includes nearly $800,000 for projects in Okanogan County

OLYMPIA – The Washington Salmon Recovery Funding Board today announced the award of $14.6 million in grants for projects to restore salmon habitat in an effort to bring the iconic fish back from the brink of extinction.

The grants include $795,488 for projects in Okanogan County, all three in the Methow Valley. The grants were awarded to:

Cascade Columbia Fisheries Enhancement Group

Designing Restoration of the Chewuch River Grant Awarded: $81,785

The Cascade Columbia Fisheries Enhancement Group will use this grant to complete a floodplain restoration final design for the Burns-Garrity reach of the Chewuch River, near Winthrop. This reach of the river suffers from limited floodplain connectivity and water that often is too warm and too low.

The fisheries enhancement group will partner with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, private landowners, and the Bureau of Reclamation to design the project, which will look at improving habitat complexity in the river, reconnecting floodplain and off-channel habitat,and restoring shoreline trees and shrubs.

The river is used by upper Columbia River spring Chinook salmon, which are listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act and by upper Columbia River steelhead, which are listed as threatened with extinction.

The Cascade Columbia Fisheries Enhancement Group will contribute $95,550 in another grant and donations of labor. Visit RCO’s online Project Snapshot Visit RCO’s online Project Snapshot for more information and photographs of this project. (16-1792)

Methow Salmon Recovery Foundation Grant Awarded: $494,297

Buying the Silver Side Channel to the Methow River

The Methow Salmon Recovery Foundation will use this grant to buy 95.8 acres along the Silver side channel of the Methow River, between Twisp and Carlton. The purchase will eliminate restrictions on the land and allow the buildings to be moved and the floodplain and side channel to be restored.

The Silver side channel is a more than one mile long, groundwater-fed side channel of the Methow River and has potential to support a strong fish community. A century of grazing and farming simplified and degraded the channel and floodplain so they provide little to no fish habitat. The foundation will move the homes further upland to allow resale with the 42 acres of farmland near State Highway 153.

The river is used by upper Columbia River spring Chinook salmon, which are listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act, and by upper Columbia River steelhead, which are listed as threatened Salmon Recovery with extinction. The Methow Salmon Recovery Foundation will contribute $236,406 from another grant. Visit RCO’s online Project Snapshot for more information and photographs of this project. (16-1795)

Methow Salmon Recovery Foundation Grant Awarded: $219,406

Conserving Lower Twisp River Floodplain

The Methow Salmon Recovery Foundation will use this grant to buy about 23 acres of waterfront, including about a quarter-mile of shoreline, on the south side of the lower Twisp River near Twisp. The land is next to land already protected and when combined would total more than a mile of protected stream bank. The land also is next to a habitat project and the shoreline opposite the land is protected by a voluntary land preservation agreement, also called a conservation easement.

If not protected, the land could be developed to support four homes. This acquisition will protect the investment in the restoration project and increase restoration opportunities for future projects. Buying the land will allow the foundation to address the loss of habitat on the property that impairs shoreline and floodplain function and to resell the upland areas. The river is used by upper Columbia River spring Chinook salmon, which are listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act, and by upper Columbia River steelhead, which are listed as threatened with extinction. The Methow Salmon Recovery Foundation will contribute $523,429 from a federal grant. Visit RCO’s online Project Snapshot for more information and photographs of this project. (16-1796).
These projects around the state are a critical part of our efforts to restore salmon and keep our runs healthy,” said Gov. Jay Inslee. “We all want our children and grandchildren to enjoy the thrill of going out to the water and casting their first line. We all share a stake in helping the many families and businesses that rely on salmon for their livelihoods and recreation. And we all have an obligation to assure that the fish we share with tribes are healthy and resilient. These grants help communities fix what’s damaged and make the land and water better for both people and salmon.”
The Salmon Recovery Funding Board awarded grants to organizations in 26 counties for 77 projects. The grants will be used to remove barriers that prevent salmon from migrating, increase the types and amount of habitat for salmon, conserve pristine areas and replant riverbanks so there are more places for salmon to spawn, feed, rest, hide from predators and transition from freshwater to saltwater and back again.
For a full list of the projects in the state that were given and for details on each project, visit http://www.rco.wa.gov/doc_page
We are committed to restoring salmon and these grants are important to stopping their decline around the state,” said David Troutt, chair of the Salmon Recovery Funding Board. “After nearly 20 years of working on this issue, we know what works. Local communities are using this state and federal money, matching it with their own and restoring the places salmon live. The work they are doing also is reducing flooding, improving water quality and keeping water in the rivers for salmon and all other fish. This is important work, work worth doing.”
Projects are selected by lead entities, which are watershed-based groups that include tribes, local governments, nonprofit organizations and citizens. Lead entities recruit projects and sponsors, make sure the projects are based on regional salmon recovery plans approved by the federal government and prioritize which projects to submit to the Salmon Recovery Funding Board for funding. Then, regional salmon recovery organizations and the Salmon Recovery Funding Board review each project to ensure they will help recover salmon in the most cost-effective manner.
Projects go through a very rigorous process to ensure that local communities support them and to be sure they are scientifically valid and cost-effective,” said Kaleen Cottingham, director of the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office, which administers the grants. “This is a bottom-up approach based on regional recovery plans with checks and balances to ensure we invest the money very wisely.”
The Salmon Recovery Funding Board invests in salmon recovery because salmon populations in Washington have been declining for generations. As Washington grew and built its cities and towns, it destroyed many of the places salmon need to live. In 1991, the federal government declared the first salmon as endangered. By the end of that decade, salmon 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.
Funding for the grants comes from the sale of state bonds authorized by the Legislature and from the federal Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund, administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service.
Salmon Recovery Means Jobs
Recent studies showed that every $1 million spent on watershed restoration results in an average of 16.7 jobs and up to $2.6 million in total economic activity and that 80 percent of grant money is spent in the county where the project was located. These new grants are estimated to provide 115 jobs during the next four years and nearly $18 million in economic activity as grant recipients hire contractors, crews and consultants to design and build projects, including field crews to restore rivers and shoreline areas.
Information about the Salmon Recovery Funding Board and the Recreation and Conservation Office is available online at www.rco.wa.gov.

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