Tuesday, January 3, 2017

03/01/2017: State awards $14.6 million for salmon recovery projects statewide

The Washington Salmon Recovery Funding Board today announced the award of $14.6 million in grants for projects to restore salmon habitat in an effort to bring the iconic fish back from the brink of extinction.

“These projects around the state are a critical part of our efforts to restore salmon and keep our runs healthy,” said Gov. Jay Inslee.

“We all want our children and grandchildren to enjoy the thrill of going out to the water and casting their first line. We all share a stake in helping the many families and businesses that rely on salmon for their livelihoods and recreation. And we all have an obligation to assure that the fish we share with tribes are healthy and resilient. These grants help communities fix what’s damaged and make the land and water better for both people and salmon.”

The Salmon Recovery Funding Board awarded grants to organisations in 26 counties for 77 projects.

The grants will be used to remove barriers that prevent salmon from migrating, increase the types and amount of habitat for salmon, 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.
Image: Bureau of Land Management Oregon and Washington

“We are committed to restoring salmon and these grants are important to stopping their decline around the state,” said David Troutt, chair of the Salmon Recovery Funding Board.

“After nearly 20 years of working on this issue, we know what works. Local communities are using this state and federal money, matching it with their own and restoring the places salmon live. The work they are doing is also reducing flooding, improving water quality and keeping water in the rivers for salmon and all other fish. This is important work, work worth doing.”

How Projects are Chosen
Projects are selected by lead entities, which are watershed-based groups that include tribes, local governments, nonprofit organisations and citizens. Lead entities recruit projects and sponsors, make sure the projects are based on regional salmon recovery plans approved by the federal government and prioritise which projects to submit to the Salmon Recovery Funding Board for funding.

Then, regional salmon recovery organisations and the Salmon Recovery Funding Board review each project to ensure they will help recover salmon in the most cost-effective manner.

“Projects go through a very rigorous process to ensure that local communities support them and to be sure they are scientifically valid and cost-effective,” said Kaleen Cottingham, director of the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office, which administers the grants.

“This is a bottom-up approach based on regional recovery plans with checks and balances to ensure we invest the money very wisely.”

Why do we invest in salmon recovery?
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.

Funding for the grants comes from the sale of state bonds authorised by the Legislature and funds from the federal Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund, administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service.

Salmon Recovery Means Jobs
Recent studies showed that every $1 million spent on watershed restoration results in an average of 16.7 jobs and 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 115 jobs during the next 4 years and nearly $18 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.

A list of the grants given to projects in each county can be found HERE.

Read more HERE.

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