The Washington State Salmon Recovery Funding Board and Puget Sound Partnership announced this week that they gave 64 different grants, totaling $45 million, to counties in the Puget Sound area. The grants aim to improve Chinook salmon habitat and conserve shorelines and riverbanks. The money is from the Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration Fund that collects money to recover the Puget Sound salmon population. Every two years, the state legislature secures money in the capital budget for this fund.
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According to a press release from the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office, Chinook salmon are an essential food source for the endangered orcas in the area. In 1991, Pacific Northwest salmon were proclaimed an endangered species by the Federal Government under the Endangered Species Act. Currently, there is still a decline in the Chinook salmon population.
“Since its inception in 2007, the Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration Fund has leveraged $78 million federal and other matching funds and created more than 2,600 jobs. Fund investments have protected more than 3,000 acres of estuary, 80 miles of river for migrating fish and 10,000 acres of watershed habitat,” reads the press release.
The new grants were awarded to the following counties: Clallam County, Island County, Jefferson County, King County, Kitsap County, Mason County, Pierce County, San Juan County, Skagit County, Snohomish County, Thurston County, and Whatcom County.
“When we invest in salmon recovery, it’s not just salmon that we’re saving,” said Governor Jay Inslee in a prepared statement. “Whether you live near, love to play in, or simply care about Puget Sound, this funding is a cornerstone of doing that—and investing in that habitat kick-starts a suite of other benefits. We’re also preserving our Pacific Northwest legacy, our way of life, our jobs, our neighborhoods, and our communities.”
In King County, the King County Water and Land Resources Division will use almost $6 million to remove about 180,000 cubic yards of fill from the floodplain, and about a half-mile levee near the Cedar River. Also, they will put plants on 28 acres and construct a one-mile channel. This will increase salmon habitat to spawn.
Also in King County, nearly $600,000 will go toward removing invasive plants, and planting trees along 13 miles of the Green River. The trees will give shade to the water, which positively impacts the fish, and the roots will keep soil from entering the water.
“The grants awarded today include projects that will remove a diversion dam on the Pilchuck River that will open 37 miles of habitat, reconnect just under a mile of the Dungeness River with 112 acres of its historic floodplain, and remove a dam on the Nooksack River that will open 16 miles of habitat,” reads the press release.
Moreover, in Kitsap County, over $750,000 was awarded to the Bainbridge Island Land Trust to restore Little Manzanita Bay’s 18 acres of shoreline, wetlands, and streams. The land trust is going to remove invasive plants and add native plants along the shoreline. This will provide shade to the beach, which keeps fish eggs out of the sun. Also, the salmon can eat insects dropped into the water from the surrounding plants and trees.
“Salmon are integral to the identity and traditions of the Pacific Northwest and are a vital part of the Puget Sound food web. This funding will support projects that help recover salmon populations and feed our struggling southern resident orcas,” said Puget Sound Partnership’s Executive Director, Laura Blackmore.
To read the project details from the 64 grants, visit here.