Conservation work keeps up in tough economy

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The question has been asked, "How is the Walla Walla County Conservation District fairing in these current economic times when funding is tougher to get?"

Given the fact that our district's funding is almost entirely grant driven, the ability of the WWCCD to maintain its operations at a consistently high level has indeed become more of a challenge. To be sure, with tighter federal and state budgets, grant dollars are more difficult to obtain.

Over the past 10 years, the WWCCD has averaged $1.5 million to $2 million per year in on-the-ground projects. These projects include The Hofer-Eastside-Westside Complex Project, the Gose Street Fish Passage Project, the Garrison Creek Fish Screen Project, and the Gardena Farms Irrigation District No. 13 - South Lateral Piping Project as well as many other smaller projects. The district has earned the reputation for doing difficult projects on time and under budget.

That being said, the district continues to be awarded grants that will enable it to continue with a very active project implementation schedule for the next year or so.

What, then, can be expected to come out of WWCCD activities?

Gardena Farms Irrigation District 13 North Lateral Piping Project: WWCCD has funding commitments of $187,000 from Bonneville Power Administration, $1 million from the federal Bureau of Reclamation, and $1,145,000 from the state Department of Ecology. The project is scheduled for construction in 2012.

Gardena Farms Irrigation District 13 Upper Canal Piping Project: WWCCD has a funding commitment of $1,135,000 from DOE. Construction is scheduled for 2013.

Bergevin-Williams/Old Lowden Ditch Diversion Consolidation Project: The district has a funding commitment from BPA of $1.1 million with a scheduled construction date of 2012.

Bergevin-Williams/Old Lowden Ditch Piping Project: WWCCD has funding commitments of $1.4 million from DOE and $800,000 from BPA with construction scheduled for 2012

WWCCD Metering Program (ongoing): This program will continue with a recent funding commitment of $400,000 from DOE for 2012-2013.

Stiller Pond Aquifer Recharge Project: WWCCD was awarded $67,000 from BPA to implement this project in late 2011/early 2012.

McCaw Fish Habitat Restoration Project: Pending approval of a restoration design, the district will receive a $133,312 grant from the state Salmon Recovery Funding Board to implement this project in 2012.

Jones Ditch Fish Screen and Habitat Improvement Project: WWCCD will receive an additional $94,297 from SRFB to assess and design this project in 2012.

Smith Sediment Retention Project: WWCCD received a grant for $19,000 from the Community Salmon Fund to implement this project in late 2011.

WWCCD General Fish Screen Program (ongoing)

WWCCD Riparian Buffer Program (ongoing)

WWCCD Fish Passage Barrier Removal Program (ongoing)

Blalock Irrigation District Fish Screen Project -- design complete and awaiting funding.

WWCCD is unique in that we do it all with in-house capabilities -- prepare grant applications, administer grant funding, engineer projects, produce AUTOCAD plans, bid out projects, develop contracts, inspect work as it is completed, and provide construction management services.

WWCCD does all of the above while coordinating with landowners to ensure that the government funded fish restoration projects are meeting their needs and expectations.

Larry Hooker is agricultural projects coordinator for the Walla Walla County Conservation District.

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