Outdoors

State grants fund vital salmon and steelhead habitat projects

Efforts to restore salmon and steelhead habitat in the Mashel River will continue in part of a state grant.
Efforts to restore salmon and steelhead habitat in the Mashel River will continue in part of a state grant. Staff file, 2005

Almost $1.5 million in grants will fund projects that will aid in restoring or protecting South Sound habitat crucial to restoring runs of salmon and steelhead.

Eleven projects in Pierce, Thurston, Kitsap and Mason counties will receive funds from the state Salmon Recovery Funding Board. In all, the board awarded $14.6 million in grants for 77 projects in 26 counties.

The projects include those that will 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, according to the board.

“We are committed to restoring salmon, and these grants are important to stopping their decline around the state,” David Troutt, chairman of the board, said in a prepared statement. “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 grants also mean jobs to fuel the local economy, according to the board. Recent studies show that every $1 million spent on watershed restoration creates an average of 16.7 jobs and up to $2.6 million in total economic activity. The studies show that 80 percent of grant money is spent in the same county as the project.

The new grants are estimated to provide 115 jobs during the next four years and nearly $18 million in economic activity, according to the board.

Jeffrey P. Mayor: 253-597-8640

Follow the money

THURSTON COUNTY: $232,908

Conserving Lower Henderson Inlet habitat: Capitol Land Trust awarded $23,782. The trust will use this grant to buy about 2 acres on the southern end of Henderson Inlet. The land contains an estuary, beach, wetlands and uplands. This purchase is part of a larger project to conserve just under 106 acres and more than 1 mile of Puget Sound shoreline. The trust will contribute $300,000 from a federal grant and Conservation Futures.

Restoring Harmony Farms: Capitol Land Trust awarded $117,881. This grant will be used to restore salmon habitat at Harmony Farms, a 55-acre farm with nearly a mile of shoreline on Henderson Inlet. The trust will contribute $22,500 in a federal grant.

Conserving Frye Cove Creek habitat: Capitol Land Trust awarded $26,245. The funds will be used to appraise 40.5 acres and 0.8 mile of Frye Cove Creek shoreline, including the upper end of Frye Cove estuary, for future conservation. The land is next to Frye Cove County Park and has been managed as a family tree farm.

Designing removal of a fish barrier on Hunter Point Road: Thurston County awarded $65,000. The Thurston County Public Works Department will use the money to develop preliminary designs to restore fish passage in an unnamed tributary to Eld Inlet in Puget Sound. The tributary runs through a large corrugated metal pipe under Hunter Point Road on the Steamboat Island Peninsula. The pipe is rusted through and sits 4 feet above the water, completely blocking fish.

PIERCE COUNTY: $876,982

Conserving Middle Ohop Creek: Nisqually Land Trust awarded $123,178. The trust will use the funds to buy 32 acres along Ohop Creek, one of two main tributaries to the Nisqually River. The creek provides spawning and rearing habitat for chinook and steelhead. The purchase includes more than 1,000 feet of Ohop Creek, 6.5 acres of predominantly fallow pasture and old farmyard north of the creek, and 25.5 acres south of the creek. The trust will contribute $70,308 from another grant and donations of labor.

Assessing the condition of wild salmon in the Puyallup River: Puyallup Tribe of Indians awarded $58,825. The tribe will use this grant to assess the health and condition of wild salmon in the Puyallup. Scientists will collect and analyze data on the abundance, run timing, size and other biological characteristics of chinook, steelhead and bull trout. The tribe will contribute $10,400 from a federal grant.

Restoring South Prairie Creek: South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Group awarded $349,979. This grant will help restore 0.6 miles of South Prairie Creek and its floodplain east of Orting. The partners will create a side channel to the creek by grading and clearing trees and plants. They also will install a channel-spanning engineered logjam in the creek at the inlet of the newly created side channel. The goal is to improve habitat to support juvenile rearing, adult spawning and egg incubation for chinook and steelhead. The enhancement group will contribute $291,779 from another grant.

Restoring the Mashel River: The south Puget Sound group awarded $180,000. The group and its partners will use this grant to continue the third phase of a decadelong restoration effort to improve salmon habitat in the Mashel near Eatonville. The team will install engineered logjams and wood crib walls in the river, reconnect a side channel and plant about 5 acres of shoreline. The enhancement group will contribute $210,060 in federal and other grants and donations of labor.

Assessing Gig Harbor Peninsula Streams: Wild Fish Conservancy awarded $165,000. The funds will help correct water type classification maps in at least six watersheds that drain the Gig Harbor peninsula. The work will occur in the Artondale, Crescent, Goodnough, McCormick, North and Purdy creek watersheds. The conservancy also will collect data on fish species and distribution. The conservancy will contribute $30,000 in a local grant and donations of labor and materials.

KITSAP COUNTY: $279,169

Restoring Big Beef Creek: Hood Canal Salmon Enhancement Group awarded $229,840. The funds will be used to place tree root wads and large logs in key reaches below the Lake Symington dam and in productive tributaries of Big Beef Creek. The work will enhance channel complexity, improve winter habitat conditions and promote sediment stability.

MASON COUNTY: $78,194

Designing the restoration of Gosnell Creek: Mason Conservation District awarded $78,194. The Mason grant will be used to design restoration of a reach of Gosnell Creek near Shelton. The land along this reach has been converted to pasture, the shoreline trees are gone, and livestock wade in the stream. Immediately upstream of this reach is some of the best spawning and rearing habitat in the watershed for coho salmon and steelhead. The district will design a project to place large tree root wads and logs in a half mile of the creek, plant native trees and shrubs on 7 acres of its shoreline, install about 1 mile of fencing to keep livestock out of the creek, and replace a bridge.

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