“Salmon are vital to Washington’s economy and way of life. This funding will put people across the state back to work on projects that local communities and scientists agree are high priorities for restoring salmon populations,” said Governor Chris Gregoire. “It is a crucial investment in our efforts to restore healthy and abundant salmon populations.”
Of the $28 million, $15.5 million will be awarded by the Salmon Recovery Funding Board for projects statewide that will restore and protect rivers, streams and estuaries increasing the places that salmon need for spawning, rearing, migrating and feeding.
“We have a very competitive grant process to ensure that the state is investing in the projects that will most benefit salmon recovery,” said Kaleen Cottingham, director of the Recreation and Conservation Office, which administers the federal grant and supports the Salmon Recovery Funding Board. “Grant applications for more than 167 projects were submitted in August and the board will make final grant awards in December.”
Another $8.2 million of the federal grant goes to the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission for hatchery and harvest reform projects. Salmon monitoring projects in the state will receive $3.2 million.
“Commercial and recreational fishing alone support an estimated 16,374 jobs and
$540 million in personal income in Washington according to a 2006 study,” Cottingham said. “That doesn’t include how valuable salmon are as a cultural icon or what restoration and protection of natural places do for our property values and quality of life.”
As Washington’s population has grown, its salmon have dwindled. The federal government has listed 18 species of salmon in Washington under the Endangered Species Act since 1991. In the Puget Sound region, only 22 of at least 37 historic Chinook populations remain. Those that remain are at only 10 percent of their historic numbers, with some lower than 1 percent.
“We want to thank our Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, as well as Congressman Norm Dicks and the other members of our congressional delegation for fighting hard to bring this money to Washington. The Governor’s gubernatorial colleagues in other states also have been important partners,” Cottingham said. “This funding is an important investment in our future. Salmon are an important part of our economy and their recovery is helping everyone from those that depend on salmon for their livelihood and enjoyment to restoration contractors and others involved in restoring healthy salmon runs.”
Congress created the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund in 2000 to restore Pacific salmon populations. The fund, along with a state match, is the primary source of funding for salmon recovery in Washington.
In Washington, the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund contributions have totaled more than $300 million and have helped remove 249 barriers to fish passage that were limiting upstream access to habitats for fish. This funding source also has helped restore 1,280 miles of habitat along rivers and 3,600 acres of estuary at the mouths of those rivers. It also has helped acquire more than 33,229 acres of crucial salmon habitat.
Salmon restoration projects are estimated to create 1.57 jobs for every $100,000 invested, according to a University of Oregon study. Since 1999, this federal funding and state match have funded more than 1,200 restoration projects estimated to have created more than 3,700 jobs.
The federal Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration administers the fund and will split the $80 million award for federal fiscal year 2011 among Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Idaho, Nevada and California.