The Washington Salmon Recovery Funding Board announced this month 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.
Three projects in Klickitat Coun-ty received funding totaling $480, 197.
“These projects around the state are a critical part of our efforts to restore salmon and keep our runs healthy,” said Gov. Jay Inslee. “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 statewide 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.
Grants, recipients and scope of projects in Klickitat County include the following:
Mid-Columbia Fisheries En-hancement Group, $48,020 Assessing Recovery of Salmon after Condit Dam Removal
The Mid-Columbia Fisheries Enhancement Group will use this grant to monitor salmon species in the White Salmon River for a second year now that the Condit Dam has been removed.
Using a rotary screw trap to track Chinook and steelhead recolonization, the fisheries enhancement group will assess recolonization success and adapt management decisions. The river is used by lower Columbia River Chinook and coho salmon, and Columbia River steelhead, all of which are listed as threatened with extinction under the federal Endangered Species Act.
The Mid-Columbia Fisheries Enhancement Group will contribute $16,812 in donations of equipment.
“This new grant will fund a continuation of most of the monitoring efforts that were funded through the Salmon Recovery Funding Board in the previous round,” said Margaret Neuman, executive director of Mid-Col-umbia Fisheries Enhancement Group. “That previous grant provided us with one year of data about juvenile salmonid abundance and distribution.”
The next grant will support a second year of data collection via a rotary screw trap in the lower White Salmon River in the spring of 2017. Mid-Columbia Fisheries again will be partnering with the U.S. Geological Survey Columbia River Research Laboratory.
“Having a second year of data will provide a better understanding of juvenile salmonid populations, as one year of data is a fairly limited ‘point in time’ data set,” Neuman noted.
Columbia Land Trust, $343,800 Conserving Land in Klickitat River Canyon
As Phase II of this project, the Columbia Land Trust (CLT) will use this grant to conserve 2,760 acres of a diverse landscape in the transitional zone of the east Cascade Mountains. The land straddles the Wild and Scenic Klickitat River and includes 1.4 miles of Summit Creek and .1 mile of White Creek (see map at far left)
White Creek provides 40% of observed spawning in the Klickitat River watershed by summer middle Columbia River steelhead, which are listed as threatened with extinction under the federal Endangered Species Act.
White Creek also is used as over-summer rearing habitat for juveniles, with many of those fish using Summit Creek when White Creek goes dry. Summit Creek is one of only three perennial tributaries in the lower 40 miles of the Klickitat River watershed and provides critical refugia during high flow events.
Also using the project area are mid-Columbia River spring Chi-nook, fall Chinook, coho, and cutthroat trout. This project is the second phase of a multi-phased effort to protect 5,600 acres that are threatened by land sales and development in what is a critical migratory corridor for many fish and animals.
Cherie Kearney, CLT’s forest conservation director and project lead, said the trust has been invested in conserving land on the Klickitat River for nearly 20 years.
“Most recently we have identified the Klickitat Canyon Forest about 5 miles east of Glenwood as a high priority for forestry, public access and recreation, and wildlife habitat.”
Columbia Land Trust completed Phase I of the project this month when it entered into an agreement with the state Department of Natural Resources to manage 2,400 acres of forest land that DNR plans to acquire from a private owner under the USDA Forest Legacy Program.
DNR will own the land in its Community Forest Trust, and the county will receive payments in lieu of taxes. Moreover, DNR will enter into a long-term management agreement with CLT for forestry and public access.
A public advisory committee comprising representatives from the local community, the county, the Yakama Nation, and DNR will be established to help guide development of a management plan for the site.
The project enjoys broad support including from the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation, Klickitat County Commissioners, state agencies, neighboring industrial forest owners, conservation nonprofits, and local community forest partners.
Klickitat County’s Board of Commissioners wrote on March 22 of this year that it “unanimously supports Columbia Land Trust’s proposal for conservation of the Klickitat Canyon Forest as a working, community forest.”
CLT will contribute $112,671 in donations of cash. Kearney said CLT is currently raising funds for Phase II.
“We hope to complete Phase II about the end of 2017 with the same conservation goals: sustainable forestry ensuring fire and climate resiliency; public access for uses such as fishing, hunting, rafting, birding; Native American traditional access; and wildlife habitat,” Kearney noted.
Klickitat County, $88,377 Designing a Project to Reconnect Lower Spring Creek Floodplain
Klickitat County will use this grant to design a project on lower Spring Creek Road that will remove a barrier to fish passage and replace it with a bridge over Spring Creek, near the community of Husum.
The project design will include removing a culvert, which is a large pipe carrying Spring Creek under the road, and moving the road north of its current location so it’s further away from the creek and its tributaries.
The design also would include decommissioning the abandoned part of the original road and returning the land to wetlands and creek shoreline.
The creek is a tributary to the White Salmon River, which is used by lower Columbia River Chinook and coho salmon and by Columbia River steelhead, all of which are listed as threatened with extinction under the federal Endangered Species Act.
Klickitat County will contribute $59,500.
According to Public Works Dir-ector Gordie Kelsey, this .71 miles portion of Spring Creek Road has been on the county 6-Year Transportation Improvement Plan since at least 2008.
“This project has several unique environmental challenges with fish passage and wetlands,” Kelsey explained. “After reviewing the project we believe it’s feasible to move the road out of the stream channel completely and eliminate two of the three stream crossings. Relocating the road would also allow us to restore several wetlands associated with the adjacent streams.”
The Public Works Department plans to develop the project design and acquire right of way over the next two years, 2017-18,, with construction occurring in 2019.
“However, construction in 2019 is dependent on additional grant funding becoming available to assist with construction costs,” Kelsey said.