UCD One of Three County Groups Getting a Salmon Recovery Grant

A privately owned floodplain is currently cut-off from access to fish by a boulder dike, and several headcuts are forming across the floodplain. There are also opportunities for large wood placement along the mainstem of Buck Creek. The Underwood Conservation District and Mid-Columbia Fisheries Enhancement Group will work with landowners and stakeholders to assess feasibility, identify appropriate restoration activities, and coordinate the design and planning of a project to reconnect the disengaged floodplain to increase off-channel rearing and refuge for adult and juvenile salmonids. (Submitted photos)

The Washington Salmon Recovery Funding Board has announced the award of nearly $18 million in grants for projects to restore salmon habitat in an effort to bring the iconic fish back from the brink of extinction.

Klickitat County was awarded $445,035 for three projects. Those projects include:

Underwood Conservation District Grant Awarded: $64,230

Planning a Project to Enhance Lower Buck Creek — The Underwood Conservation District will use this grant to coordinate with landowners and others to assess project feasibility, design, and planning to reconnect floodplains and increase off-channel habitat for adult and young salmon. Buck Creek is a significant tributary to the White Salmon River, upstream of the former Condit Dam. Steelhead and coho are recolonizing the creek. A dike cuts off access for fish to a privately-owned floodplain. The project will include analyzing alternative options and creating conceptual designs and plans to enhance streamside plants. It also will include obtaining permits and going through a cultural resources review. The conservation district will contribute $11,338 in another grant and resources.

Central Klickitat Conservation District Grant Awarded: $200,663

Enhancing Swale Creek Habitat — The Central Klickitat Conservation District will use this grant to add tree root wads and logs to enhance habitat in Swale Creek. These woody materials create places for fish to rest, feed, and hide from predators. They also slow the water, which reduces erosion and allows small rocks settle to the creek bed, creating areas for salmon to spawn. Finally, logjams change the flow of the creek, creating riffles and pools, which give salmon a more varied habitat. The project will benefit steelhead trout, which are listed as threatened with extinction under the federal Endangered Species Act. The conservation district will contribute $48,985 in a state grant and donation of materials.

Eastern Klickitat Conservation District Grant Awarded: $180,142

Enhancing Lower Rock Creek Habitat — The Eastern Klickitat Conservation District will use this grant to add tree root wads and logjams to support salmon habitat and beaver activity in Rock Creek. Logjams create places for fish to rest, feed, and hide from predators. They also slow the water, which reduces erosion and allows small rocks to settle to the creek bed, creating areas for salmon to spawn. Finally, logjams change the flow of the creek, creating riffles and pools, which give salmon a more varied habitat. The conservation district also will install fences to keep cattle out of the creek and provide water for them away from the creek. The district also will control invasive species and plant the shoreline. Planting trees and bushes along a shoreline helps shade the water, cooling it for fish. The plants also drop branches and leaves into the water, which provide food for the insects salmon eat. Finally, the roots of the plants help keep soil from entering the water, where it can smother fish spawning gravel. The project will benefit steelhead trout, which are listed as threatened with extinction under the federal Endangered Species Act. The conservation district will contribute $55,000 in a state grant and donations of labor and materials.

Since the creation of the Salmon Recovery Funding Board in 1999, the board has awarded more than $700 million in state and federal funds to more than 2,650 projects across the state. With matching funds provided by grant recipients, the amount invested in board-funded salmon recovery projects is $987 million.

The Salmon Recovery Funding Board awarded grants to organizations for 95 projects in 30 of the state’s 39 counties. Grant recipients will use this funding to remove barriers that prevent salmon from migrating, increase the types and amount of salmon habitat, conserve pristine areas and replant riverbanks to increase places for salmon to spawn, feed, rest, hide from predators and transition from freshwater to saltwater and back again.

Recent studies show that every $1 million spent on watershed restoration results in between 15.7 and 23.8 jobs and up to $2.5 million in total economic activity. The funds awarded this week are estimated to provide up to 470 jobs during the next 4 years and up to nearly $50 million in economic activity. These new grants will put contractors, consultants and field crews to work designing and building projects and restoring rivers and shorelines. It is estimated that about 80 percent of these funds stay in the county where the project is located.

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, vet projects based on federally approved regional salmon recovery plans and prioritize which projects to submit to the Salmon Recovery Funding Board for funding. Regional salmon recovery organizations and the board review each project for cost-effectiveness and to ensure they will benefit salmon.

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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