More state funding coming for salmon restoration


Dec. 07—OLYMPIA — Governments, tribes and organizations in Kitsap County will receive an additional $2.5 million next year for salmon restoration projects, as part of a statewide appropriation of $42 million.

The $2.5 million, approved by the state’s Salmon Recovery Funding Board and Puget Sound Partnership, comes on top of about $4 million in conservation funds and $1 million in salmon-restoration funds approved earlier this year.

“Salmon are an important part of both Washington’s culture and economy,” said Gov. Jay Inslee in announcing the latest funds. “Healthy salmon populations support thousands of jobs in fishing, hotels and restaurants, seafood processing, boat sales and repair, charter operations, environmental restoration and more.”

David Trout, chairman of the SRF Board, said salmon-funding programs have helped stabilize fish populations in most areas of the state, but some populations continue to decline. Improving habitat and avoiding degradation is the key, he said.

“Without these grants, Washington’s salmon populations would continue to decline until nothing was left,” Trout said. “That’s the trajectory we were on before salmon were placed on the federal Endangered Species Act list.”

In this round of funding, the largest project in Kitsap County is an eelgrass-restoration project at the former Milwaukee Dock on Bainbridge Island’s Eagle Harbor. The $1.9 million project will complete the eelgrass restoration started this year, using the last of the settlement money from the owners of the Wyckoff wood-treatment plan.

Milwaukee Dock, on the south side of Eagle Harbor, once served the town of Creosote, adjacent to the wood-treatment plant. At some point in time, two channels were dredged through the middle of a prime four-acre eelgrass bed, creating a depression 25 feet deep in places. The channels were so deep that eelgrass could not get enough light to grow.

The Suquamish Tribe, which is providing $118,000, serves as the sponsor of the eelgrass-restoration project, which involves the Army Corps of Engineers and private contractors. The project is set up as an experiment to determine what it takes to restore eelgrass to a degraded area.

Kathleen Peters, Kitsap County’s salmon-recovery coordinator, said the western shoreline of Bainbridge Island — including Eagle Harbor — is important habitat for migrating chinook salmon, listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act. Restoring eelgrass beds, which provide food and cover for salmon, is a critical part of salmon restoration, she said.

It’s an expensive project, she noted, because it involves bringing in clean sediments by barge to fill the channels and hiring divers to plant the eelgrass. Techniques learned from this year’s work will help with the remainder of the Milwaukee Dock project, she added.

Other Kitsap County projects:

—Carpenter Creek estuary: About 20 acres of the estuary near Kingston will be purchased outright, with the remaining 60 acres placed into a conservation easement. The latest funding for $196,000 is added to a previous grant of $1 million. The project includes design for a new culvert, which will replace one that constrains flows at the upper end of the estuary. The acquisition and restoration work will complement a new bridge on South Kingston Road. The bridge has improved salmon migration into Carpenter Creek at the edge of Kingston’s Apple Tree Cove.

—Grover’s Creek watershed: Grants totaling $416,000 will purchase 259 acres of forestland, including old-growth sitka spruce and red cedar along with a rare peat bog. The property, owned by Pope Resources, is included in the list of target properties proposed as part of the Kitsap Forest and Bay acquisition project. The property contains a critical wildlife corridor and a highly functioning stretch of Grover’s Creek, which spills into Miller Bay. Great Peninsula Conservancy, which will acquire the property, earlier received a $166,000 grant from the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program.

—Culvert at Chico Creek: The Suquamish Tribe received $85,000 to work with Kitsap County to complete planning for the replacement of a culvert where Golf Club Hill Road crosses Chico Creek. The project also will study the potential restoration of upstream floodplain habitat at the county park adjacent to Kitsap Golf and Country Club. Chico Creek is the most productive salmon stream on the Kitsap Peninsula. The Suquamish Tribe will contribute $118,000 from a federal grant.

—Point No Point wetlands: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife will receive $157,000 to investigate options for restoring Point No Point wetlands south of the Point No Point Lighthouse. During development, the salt marsh was isolated from Puget Sound with a dike and tide gate that only allows freshwater to flow out. The key will be to let seawater flow back into the marsh without affecting residents of the area. Restoring the marsh could benefit many species.

In Jefferson County:

Dosewallips State Park: About 260 acres of streamside habitat will be purchased on the south side of the Dosewallips River, contributing to a six-mile corridor of protected land from Hood Canal to Olympic National Forest. The $944,000 grant will be added to $303,000 in donations of labor and property interest from the Washington State Department of Parks and Recreation, which will own the property.

Additional funding:

Hood Canal Coordinating Council, which manages state conservation funding in the Hood Canal region, deferred $3 million worth of projects this year until the council can complete a new priority-ranking system. The ranking system, now under development, will be used to determine which restoration projects are the most important and target those for funding. The deferred money is scheduled to be allocated in 2014, along with any new monies that may be made available.

 

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