OLYMPIA — The state Salmon Recovery Funding Board has announced $19.2 million in grants to organizations around the state — including $669,754 for projects in Grays Harbor County and $250,348 for projects in Pacific County — to restore and protect rivers and other waterways in an effort to restore salmon runs.
“These grants are very important in Washington,” said Don “Bud” Hover, chairman of the state funding board. “They give local groups the money they need to fix the rivers, estuaries and bays in their communities and they put local people to work.”
Grant recipients will use the money to remove barriers that prevent salmon from migrating and replant riverbanks to create shade and cool the water, creating places for salmon to reproduce, feed, rest and hide from predators.
Recent studies show that every $1 million spent on watershed restoration results in 15-33 new or sustained jobs, $2.2 million to $2.5 million in total economic activity, and that 80 percent of grant money is spent in the county where the project was located, according to the Recovery Funding Board.
In Grays Harbor County, the money will be used for the following projects:
• Chehalis Basin Fisheries Task Force was awarded $175,151 to replace fish-blocking culverts on the West Fork of Chenois Creek with a bottomless, arched culvert, 24 feet wide and 9 feet tall. At the same time, Rayonier Timber Company is planning to fix 10 other barriers upstream in an effort to eliminate all fish barrier culverts in the upper watershed.
• The Quinault Indian Nation was awarded $170,440 for controlling knotweed along the Lower Quinault River. Knotweed causes damage to salmon habitat by displacing native plants that are more beneficial to salmon, contributing to soil erosion, impairing water quality, creating a gap in the aquatic food web, and choking out stream channels that salmon species use for migration and overwintering. The tribe will contribute $35,000 in staff labor and materials.
• Quinault Indian Nation, $32,000 to design a project to remove fish barriers on the Salmon River.
• Quinault Indian Nation, $71,224 to remove four culverts that are blocking fish passage in Moses Prairie, which is south of the Queets River
• Quinault Indian Nation, $16,598 to replace a fish-blocking culvert with a bridge, giving coho salmon access to nearly a half-mile of habitat on an unnamed tributary to the Quinault River.
• Wild Fish Conservancy Grant awarded $204,344 to continue its assessment of juvenile salmon in the near-shore habitat in the Grays Harbor estuary. Wild Fish Conservancy staff will sample at least 30 sites throughout Grays Harbor, twice a month, from February through September.
The two Pacific County projects to receive funding are:
• The Lower Columbia Fish Enhancement Group, awarded $112,500 to reduce the potential for landslides along the Grays River in partnership with Rayonier Timber Co. The project will stabilize 47 erosive sites along the main stem and south fork of the Grays River.
• Pacific Conservation District awarded $137,848 to remove four barriers to fish migration on a tributary to the Naselle River.
“This process ensures that we fund the projects that the local citizens feel are most important and that scientists agree will do the most to recover salmon,” Hover said.
Funding for the grants comes from the federal Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund and the sale of state bonds. In addition, nearly $1 million came from the Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration Fund, which is dedicated to projects in Puget Sound that support Gov. Chris Gregoire’s initiative to restore the health of Puget Sound.
Information about the Salmon Recovery Funding Board and the Recreation and Conservation Office is available online at www.rco.wa.gov.