Several projects will be funded in Methow Valley
The Washington Salmon Recovery Funding Board has awarded $26.1 million in grants for projects across the state aimed at bringing salmon back from the brink of extinction, including four in Okanogan County that will receive a total of $303,122 in grants.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the board’s creation, according to a press release. The board has approved a total of 3,093 grants and surpassed the $1 billion investment mark since 1999, including matching funds from grant recipients.
“These grants create many other benefits for local communities, such as better water quality, less flooding, more resiliency to climate change and a boost to our statewide economy,” said Phil Rockefeller, chair of the Salmon Recovery Funding Board. “Since the board’s beginning, its grants have created or sustained more than 4,000 jobs and contributed to the state’s economy as grant recipients spend the money for products and services.”
The Salmon Recovery Funding Board awarded grants to organizations for 96 projects in 28 of the state’s 39 counties. Grant recipients will use the funding to remove barriers that prevent salmon from migrating to and from the ocean, increase the types and amount of salmon habitat and conserve pristine areas.
Okanogan County projects that received grants, including information from the press release:
• The Cascade Columbia Fisheries Enhancement Group was awarded $37,700 to develop restoration concepts for a 2-mile stretch of the upper Methow River, where decades of floodplain encroachment have diminished the amount and type of habitat for fish. The enhancement group will compile available data, identify and fill data gaps, initiate stakeholder outreach, and develop several restoration concepts and a protection strategy for projects in this high-priority reach of the river. Over the past two decades, the Methow Conservancy has secured several contiguous parcels in this reach of the river. The river is used by Chinook salmon, which is a species listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act, and by steelhead trout, which is a species listed as threatened with extinction under the act. The enhancement group will contribute $42,500 in a local grant and donations of labor.
• The Cascade Columbia Fisheries Enhancement Group was also awarded $160,326 to assess barriers to migrating fish throughout the Okanogan sub-basin. With this assessment, the entire upper Columbia River region would have current and comprehensive fish passage data by 2022. Having a complete understanding of fish passage will allow the region to prioritize investments and leverage funding to correct and remove barriers. The sub-basin is used by steelhead trout, which is a species listed as threatened with extinction under the federal Endangered Species Act. The enhancement group will contribute $33,500 from another grant and donations of labor.
• The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation were awarded $71,086 to collect sediment data to inform the Methow Ecosystem Diagnosis and Treatment (EDT) model. This model measures changes on the landscape that impact salmon survival. Data will be integrated into the next EDT model run, which will help focus where future restoration activities could occur. The river is used by Chinook salmon, which is a species listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act, and by steelhead trout, which is a species listed as threatened with extinction under the Act. The Tribe will contribute $60,000 in donations of equipment and labor.
• The Methow Salmon Recovery Foundation was awarded $34,010 to convert a surface water diversion system on the Methow River to a groundwater well. Diversion systems take water from streams to irrigate farmland. Converting the diversion system will eliminate the need for the landowner to remove the large wood in the side channel to keep the diversion functioning. Large wood structures, such as tree roots and logs, are important for salmon because they create places for the fish to rest, hide from predators, and feed. The river is used by Chinook salmon, which is a species listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act, and by steelhead trout, which is a species listed as threatened with extinction under the Act. The Methow Salmon Recovery Foundation will contribute $6,100 in donations of cash and labor.
Projects are selected by lead entities, which are watershed-based groups that include tribes, local governments, nonprofit organizations and citizens. Lead entities vet projects based on federally approved, regional salmon recovery plans and prioritize 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.