By SVERRE BAKKE
Salmon recovery efforts in Klickitat County have enlisted some new recruits: AmeriCorps volunteers based at the Northwest Service Academy's Mount Adams center in Trout Lake.
Their participation in salmon recovery is made possible by two grants -- totaling $124,000 for two years -- the state Salmon Recovery Funding Board recently awarded to the Northwest Service Academy (NWSA).
Projects outlined in its grant applications match up nicely with NWSA's mission. The AmeriCorps program, administered by Educational Service District 112 and now in its ninth year, focuses on environmental education, watershed restoration, and fish recovery.
NWSA's applications were selected from a pool of more than 213 given consideration by the state's salmon program managers.
According to NWSA's director, Kim Crossman, grant funds will be used to:
complete a comprehensive culvert survey on all Klickitat River tributaries below the Yakama Indian Reservation boundary that have not already been surveyed.
The survey will aid in identifying and prioritizing fish passage barriers and will be used to help identify future Klickitat river watershed projects.
"Barriers themselves are the biggest detriment to salmon recovery," noted Chris Nielsen, a member of and spokesman for Klickitat County's Technical Advisory Group (TAG). "By doing the culvert survey, we're going to be able to identify barriers and locations for future projects."
restore salmonid habitat by installing two miles of cattle exclusion fence and one mile of temporary electric fence, and removing noxious and exotic weeds.
AmeriCorps members will end this phase of the project with an extensive revegetation of the riparian area, using select native vegetation species.
Nielsen said these projects were among those identified by the county TAG "in the last few years that needed to be addressed to help salmon recovery in the Klickitat River."
How much work the AmeriCorps volunteers get done in the next two years, however, will depend on the cooperation of private landowners, whose permission will be needed for access to some tributaries.
"We're in the process of doing our preparation work, getting notices out to landowners and getting our equipment in place so we'll be ready to roll in the fall," Nielsen explained.
Moreover, AmeriCorps volunteers will receive training from state Department of Fish and Wildlife personnel and have a technical adviser available "so that we're doing the surveys right and have the materials to do them accurately, and to help us get into the position where we can go on ourselves," Nielsen added.
The Salmon Program is funded through the National Marine Fisheries Service, which makes federal funds available to states for pass-through down to the local level.
Crossman said the Northwest Service Academy will try to leverage local private and public contributions with grant monies to implement the project.