WALLA WALLA — Organizations in Walla Walla, Columbia and Garfield counties have been granted more than $1.25 million for regional salmon recovery projects.
The awards from the Washington Salmon Recovery Funding Board were among $42 million in grants to organizations throughout the state to restore and protect salmon habitat. The awards were announced last week.
Three groups in Columbia County will receive the largest amount, a total of $840,833, for projects involving the Touchet and Tucannon rivers. In Walla Walla County, the Walla Walla County Conservation District will receive $323,987 to complete fish screen projects in the Walla Walla River basin.
The Asotin County Public Utility District will receive $91,080 for a project in Garfield County to increased steelhead habitat in upper Alpowa Creek.
All of the organizations receiving grants will contribute matching funds as well, said Susan Zemek, communications manager for the state Recreation and Conservation Office.
In a release, Gov. Jay Inslee said the preservation and improvement of salmon habitat are vital to the state’s culture and economy.
“Healthy salmon populations support thousands of jobs in fishing, hotels and restaurants, seafood processing, boat sales and repair, charter operations, environmental restoration and more,” Inslee said. “I am very pleased with the work of the Salmon Recovery Funding Board and its efforts to fund projects that help our economy and assure future generations of Washingtonians can enjoy the return of wild salmon.”
Money for the grants comes from the federal Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund and the sale of state bonds. In addition, $24.4 million is from the Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration Fund, which is jointly approved by the Salmon Recovery Funding Board and the Puget Sound Partnership in coordination with local watersheds, for projects that will help restore Puget Sound.
Andy Porter can be reached at email@example.com or 526-8318.
Here is a roundup of salmon recovery grants awarded in Walla Walla, Columbia and Garfield counties:
Walla Walla County
Walla Walla County Conservation District — $323,987 to complete 30 fish screen projects in the Walla Walla River Basin during the next three years. The screens at irrigation pumps and diversions prevent young fish from leaving the river and entering irrigation systems and dying. The conservation district will contribute $57,465 from a state grant and donations of cash, labor, and equipment.
Blue Mountain Land Trust — $42,735 to assess whether voluntary land preservation agreements can be made to conserve land that will be restored for salmon habitat downstream from Baileysburg along the Touchet River. The trust will contribute $7,543 in staff labor.
Columbia Conservation District — $88,500 to complete a preliminary design for habitat improvements in a quarter-mile of an upper Touchet River reach in Dayton. The conservation district also will assess the potential for improving habitat in the 500-foot-long diversion channel.
Columbia Conservation District — $461,860 to remove and modify levees that are restricting the Tucannon River from its floodplain plus reconnect nearly three-quarters of a mile of a relic side channel to the river and place large logs and tree root wads in the floodplain and side channels of the lower Tucannon River downstream of Starbuck. The conservation district will contribute $89,638 from a federal grant and donated materials.
Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation — $247,738 to realign and increase the types of habitat in nearly a half-mile of the South Fork Touchet River at the Rainwater Wildlife Area. The confederated tribes will contribute $44,000 from a federal grant.
Asotin County Public Utility District — $91,080 to increase the types of steelhead habitat in a 1.5-mile reach of upper Alpowa Creek. The utility district will contribute $16,100 in donations of materials.