WALLA WALLA -- Two Walla Walla County groups are slated to receive $1.1 million for salmon recovery projects.
The awards are among $30 million in grants to organizations around the state announced by the Washington Salmon Recovery Funding Board this week.
In Walla Walla County, the Tri State Steelheaders will receive $903,611 for two projects and the Walla Walla County Conservation District will receive $227,609 for two projects.
Columbia County will receive $265,720 for two projects, funding board chairman Don "Bud" Hover said in a release.
"These grants do two things: They provide needed money for local organizations to help repair damaged rivers and streams and protect the most pristine areas," Hover said. "They also create jobs. They will put people to work improving the environment and restoring something that is important to Washington's economy: salmon."
A Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife study in 2006 pegged the economic impacts of commercial and recreational fishing in Washington as supporting an estimated 16,374 jobs and $540 million in personal income. This new round of grants is expected to provide more than 300 jobs during the next four years.
Funding for the grants comes from the federal Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund and from the sale of state bonds. In addition, nearly $11.6 million is dedicated to projects in Puget Sound, as part of Gov. Chris Gregoire's initiative to restore the health of Puget Sound.
The projects will reconnect rivers and streams, replace failing pipes that block fish passage and replant riverbanks with the goal of improving places salmon use to reproduce and grow on their way to and from to the ocean.
Andy Porter can be reached at email@example.com or 526-8318.
ON THE NET
Salmon Funding Recovery Board: www.rco.wa.gov/boards/srfb.shtml
WW COUNTY PROJECTS
Tri State Steelheaders
- Complete final designs and construct fish passage improvements in a 285-foot section of Mill Creek. Grant amount, $427,377.
- Begin restoration of the upper one-third of a Walla Walla River reach near Lowden. Project will remove a half-mile of levee on property owned by Washington state Department of Fish and Wildlife to create off-channel habitat. Grant amount, $476,234.
Walla Walla County Conservation District
- Design new diversion entrance on Mill Creek and exit to Yellowhawk Creek to allow water in Jones Ditch year-round. This will allow the ditch to become a 1.4-mile side channel providing rearing habitat to salmon species entering from either creek. Grant amount, $94,297.
- Finalize design and begin restoration on nearly a half-mile of the McCaw reach of the Touchet River near Waitsburg. The reach is a major spawning area for mid-Columbia River steelhead. Grant amount, $133,312.
COLUMBIA COUNTY PROJECTS
Pomeroy Conservation District
- Assess the lower 50 miles of the Pataha Creek watershed focusing on barriers to fish passage. Grant amount, $14,600.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
- Expand a project to increase the types of habitat floodplain connection and off-channel habitat in the Tucannon River at the department's Wooten Wildlife Area. Grant amount, 251,120