OLYMPIA – Organizations in 29 counties were given $18 million in grants to restore salmon habitat and conserve pristine areas, helping bring salmon back from the brink of extinction, the Washington Salmon Recovery Funding Board announced today.
In addition, the salmon board awarded $250,000 to replace culverts on salmon-bearing streams damaged by the Carlton Complex fire and subsequent flooding this past summer near Twisp. The money will be used to construct two additional bridges on Frazer Creek. Previously, the salmon board and Washington Department of Transportation funded replacement of five other bridges in the area.
“Salmon are important to Washington because they support thousands of jobs in Washington - fishing, seafood processing, boat sales and repair, tourism and more,” said Gov. Jay Inslee. “When we restore land and water for salmon we also are helping our communities. We get less flooding, cleaner water and better beaches. We also make sure that our grandchildren will be able to catch a fish or enjoy watching the return of wild salmon.”
Grant recipients will use the money to remove barriers that prevent salmon from migrating, reshape rivers and streams, conserve pristine areas and replant riverbanks so there are more places for salmon to spawn, feed, rest, hide from predators and transition from freshwater to saltwater and back again.
Grants were given to projects in the counties below. Click to see details of each project.
Funding for the grants comes from the sale of state bonds and the federal Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund, administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service.
Creating Healthy Salmon Habitat
Salmon populations in Washington have been declining for generations. As Washington grew and built its cities and towns, it destroyed many of the places salmon need to live. In 1991, the federal government declared the first salmon as endangered. By the end of that decade, salmon populations had dwindled so much that salmon and bull trout were listed as threatened or endangered in three-quarters of the state. Those listings set off a series of activities including the formation of the Salmon Recovery Funding Board to oversee the investment of state and federal funds for salmon recovery.
“Without these grants that fund incredible projects, we wouldn’t have any salmon,” said David Troutt, chair of the state funding board. “That’s unacceptable. We’ve seen these grants make a difference. They create jobs, support local communities and their involvement in salmon recovery, and most importantly the projects are helping bring back the fish. After more than a decade of work, we’ve seen that in many areas of the state, salmon populations are increasing or staying the same. At the same time, we still have some important areas where fish populations are continuing to decline. We can’t get discouraged and must continue working at this. It’s too important to stop now.”
How Projects are Chosen
Projects are selected by local watershed groups, called lead entities. Lead entities are local consortiums that include tribes, local governments, nonprofits and citizens who work together to recruit and review project proposals and make decisions about which projects to forward to the Salmon Recovery Funding Board for funding. Lead entities ensure that the projects are based on regional salmon recovery plans that were approved by the federal government. Then regional salmon recovery organizations and the Salmon Recovery Funding Board review each project to ensure they will help recover salmon in the most cost-effective manner.
“Salmon recovery takes groups at all levels – state, local, tribal, federal – to work together to ensure that only the best projects are funded,” said Kaleen Cottingham, director of the Recreation and Conservation Office, which administers the grants in Washington State. “We think the process of local groups identifying what needs to be fixed in their communities and then those projects undergoing regional and state scientific review means only the best and most cost-effective projects get funded. It assures we are investing the money we have very strategically.”
Salmon Recovery Means Jobs
Recent studies showed that every $1 million spent on watershed restoration results in an average of 16.7 jobs, up to $2.6 million in total economic activity, and that 80 percent of grant money is spent in the county where the project was located.
These new grants are estimated to provide more than 190 jobs during the next four years and about $30 million in economic activity as grant recipients hire contractors, crews and consultants to design and build projects, including field crews to restore rivers and shoreline areas.
Information about the Salmon Recovery Funding Board and the Recreation and Conservation Office is available online at www.rco.wa.gov.