The Washington state House of Representatives released its proposed capital construction budget Friday, including about $10.2 million for multi-benefit floodplain management projects in Pierce County through the Floodplains by Design initiative.
If the Senate agrees with this level of funding, people in Pierce County and 10 other communities across Washington will see a significant boost in the implementation of floodplain reconnection projects making people safer and improving salmon habitat. The money would be administered through the Department of Ecology’s competitive Floodplains by Design grant program.
Funding would allow a Puyallup Watershed stakeholders group made up of county, cities, tribes and nonprofit conservation groups to improve the health of five miles of river, acquire 75 acres of land for future floodplain restoration, and protect 50 to 100 acres of farmland.
The Puyallup Watershed was one of the top-ranked projects this year, selected for the multiple benefits it will deliver including flood risk reduction, fish habitat restoration and other community priorities. Floodplains by Design champions a collaborative approach to meeting multiple objectives with limited public dollars.
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A coalition of advocates, from counties and cities to businesses and The Nature Conservancy, are seeking $50 million in state capital budget dollars for the innovative Floodplains by Design program.
“This is a wise use of public funds — solving problems holistically instead of fixing one problem only to cause another,” Ryan Mello, executive director of Pierce Conservation District, said in a release. “These projects and pathway will reduce flooding, improve fish habitat and support more economically viable farmland.”
“The Floodplains by Design program not only helps to reduce flood risk, but it also protects working farms and local jobs, restores and improves wildlife habitat and water quality, and provides the community with outdoor recreation opportunities. This proposed investment by the legislature will shape the future of Pierce County,” said Jordan Rash, Forterra’s conservation director.
Floodplains by Design is an ambitious public-private partnership working to reduce flood risks and restore habitat, while also supporting other floodplain priorities such as clean water, agriculture and recreation, along Washington’s major river corridors. Because Floodplains by Design projects are built collaboratively from the ground up and serve diverse interests, they enjoy broad support and deliver multiple benefits.