Funds dedicated to improving fish habitat
Three Methow Valley salmon restoration projects are included in state grants totaling $18 million recently awarded by the Salmon Recovery Funding Board.
The grants go to organizations around the state to repair rivers, remove barriers blocking fish passage and replant riverbanks in an effort to recover salmon from the brink of extinction.
The state grants total of $856,438 in Okanogan County, including a fourth project near Malott.
The grants, given annually and overseen by the state Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO), went to 91 projects in 29 of the state’s 39 counties.
Okanogan county projects are:
• Restoring a historic side channel of the Chewuch River north of Winthrop to facilitate year-round salmon habitat.
• Adding tree root wads and logs in Alder Creek south of Twisp to support side channel habitat.
• Improving fish habitat and creating additional flood capacity in the Upper Beaver Creek area east of Twisp.
• Restoration of Loup Loup Creek near the town of Malott.
More detail on each project:
The Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakima Nation will use a state grant of $266,485, and provide matching funds of $392,866, for a $659,351 project that will restore a historic side channel and floodplain connections to improve habitat for Chinook salmon, which is a species listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act, and steelhead trout, which is a species listed as threatened with extinction under the federal act. The project area is about 4 miles north of Winthrop on the east side of the Chewuch River.
Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation will use a state grant of $182,456, and provide matching funds of $391,767, for a $691,700 project in the Alder Creek area, on Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) land just south of the intersection of state Highways 153 and 20. Funds will be used to excavate and place large tree root wads and logs in Alder Creek to support side channel habitat. Adding logs to a creek creates places for fish to rest, feed, and hide from predators. It also slows the water, which reduces erosion and allows small rocks to settle to the bottom, creating areas for salmon to spawn, according to the RCO application.
The Yakama Nation also will plant native plants along the creek to shade the water, cooling it for fish. The river is used by Chinook salmon and by steelhead trout. The project is being developed in collaboration with WDFW and the state Department of Natural Resources.
Upper Beaver Creek
The Methow Salmon Recovery Foundation will use a state grant of $336,035, and provide matching funds of $59,307, for a $395,342 project to improve fish passage at two irrigation diversions on Beaver Creek, opening more than 17 miles of upstream habitat and 1.5 acres of wetlands. The project also will improve flood capacity in Beaver Creek. The creek is used by Chinook salmon and by steelhead trout. The project area is along Upper Beaver Creek Road north of its intersection with Balky Hill Road.
Loup Loup Creek
The Okanogan Conservation District will use a state grant of $71,462 and contribute matching funds of $42,995 for a $114,457 project to come up with design plans for floodplain restoration on a 1.2-acre private parcel on Loup Loup Creek near Malott.
“These grants are the lifeblood of our salmon recovery efforts in Washington state,” said Gov. Jay Inslee. “They fund the core of our efforts and attract $37.5 million from other sources. These grants, along with the hard work invested by thousands of people working in our state to save salmon, have gone a long way to slowing the decline of salmon.”
The Legislature created the Salmon Recovery Funding Board in 1999 to determine how best to funnel state and federal funding into recovery projects. The announced grants, and others awaiting funding, will remove 20 barriers to fish migration; open more than 45 miles of habitat to salmon; restore more than 217 miles of stream; restore nearly 292 acres of estuary; and conserve nearly 64 miles of stream, according to a press release from the RCO.
Projects are selected by lead entities, which are watershed-based groups that include tribes, local governments, nonprofit organizations and citizens. The projects are based on federally approved, regional salmon recovery plans. The projects then are reviewed by regional organizations and submitted to the Salmon Recovery Funding Board for funding.