State receives $22 million in salmon funding

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WALLA WALLA — Projects to revive salmon populations in the Walla Walla and Snake River watersheds will be among those benefitting from a federal grant announced Thursday.

The $22 million grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has been awarded to the state Salmon Recovery Funding Board. The board, in turn, will distribute the money to local watershed groups on a competitive basis.

The grant is part of $65 million authorized by Congress for salmon recovery in the Pacific Northwest. Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, California and West Coast tribes also will receive funds, but Washington state’s is the largest share, said Steve Martin, director for the Snake River Salmon Recovery Board.

“(That’s) pretty strong federal support for our ‘Washington Way,’” he said in an email.

Martin said among projects competing for funds will be to design passage structures in Mill Creek, remove culverts on Pataha Creek, improve passage at Headgate Dam on Asotin Creek and improve fish habitats in the Tucannon and Touchet rivers and in tributary streams.

In a release, Susan Zemek of the state Recreation and Conservation Office said of the $22 million, $15 million will be awarded as competitive grants for projects. The project awards will announced in December.

Another $3.3 million will go to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission for hatchery and harvest reform projects. Projects to monitor the effectiveness of the state’s efforts will receive $2.9 million.

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