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State awards $9.6 million for salmon recovery projects in Puget Sound

The Salmon Recovery Funding Board and the Puget Sound Partnership today announce the award of $9.6 million in grants for 11 projects to restore salmon habitat in and near Puget Sound.

“These projects will increase salmon populations while giving a boost to the economy,” said Gov. Jay Inslee. “Salmon are important economically to Washington state and these projects will provide construction jobs and help countless numbers of Washington families and businesses, including tackle shops, charter operators, restaurants and hotels, that rely on the world-renowned Pacific salmon.”

Today, recreational salmon fishing alone creates nearly $130 million in economic activity each year.

Projects include restoring Seahurst Park’s shoreline in Burien, protecting a section of the Cedar River, continuing to restore the lower Ohop Creek Valley, conserving Pysht River floodplain on the Olympic Peninsula, protecting shoreline on west Bainbridge Island and Reid Harbor in the San Juan Islands, conserving Dungeness River habitat, and restoring a portion of the South Fork Puyallup River.

All projects are aimed at restoring damaged salmon habitat, conserving pristine salmon habitat, or collecting data that will help make strategic investments in salmon recovery. These projects also help move the region closer to the 2020 targets identified in the Puget Sound Action Agenda, the strategic plan for recovering Puget Sound.

“Puget Sound Chinook are about one-third as abundant as they were a century ago,” said David Troutt, chair of the Salmon Recovery Funding Board. “As we have developed our urban and rural landscapes, we’ve damaged many of the estuaries, floodplains and rivers that salmon need to survive. These projects have been selected as ones that will make big impacts on Puget Sound and salmon recovery. Those two things go hand in hand. Puget Sound needs healthy salmon, and salmon need a healthy Puget Sound.”

Click below for descriptions of each grant awarded in the following counties:

Clallam County........... $3,665,974

King County................ $2,492,306

Kitsap County................. $935,000

Pierce County............. $1,782,506

San Juan County.......... $800,000

 

As Washington’s population has grown, its salmon populations have dwindled. In 1991, the federal government declared the first salmon in the Pacific Northwest as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. In 1999, Puget Sound Chinook salmon and bull trout were listed as threatened with extinction followed by steelhead in 2007. By 1999, wild salmon had disappeared from about 40 percent of their historic breeding ranges in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and California. In Washington, the numbers had dwindled so much that salmon and bull trout were listed as threatened or endangered in nearly three-fourths of the state.

“These projects will make a difference,” said Kaleen Cottingham, director of the Recreation and Conservation Office, which administers these grants. “They tackle the things that are preventing salmon populations from thriving. The projects are prioritized by the local communities and evaluated by scientists to make sure they will make a difference to salmon, which ensures only the best projects are funded.”

Project ranking is coordinated by the Puget Sound Partnership, the state agency responsible for leading the Puget Sound recovery effort. Projects are prioritized locally by lead entity citizen committees as well as regionally ranked by the Puget Sound Salmon Recovery Council. These projects represent large-scale, multi-partner restoration work that watershed groups have spent many years developing.

“It is fantastic to see the region coming together to rally around a regionally ranked list of large-scale projects that will move salmon and habitat recovery forward at a scale we have rarely seen in our region due to logistical and financial constraints,” said Marc Daily, interim executive director of the Puget Sound Partnership, which helped recruit the projects. “These projects mean local jobs and a huge step forward for Puget Sound ecosystem recovery. The pieces of the puzzle are coming together. It’s up to all of us – individuals, businesses, tribes, government agencies and nonprofits – to do the work that’s needed to ensure a healthy, prosperous Puget Sound for generations to come.”

These grants come from the Legislatively-approved Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration Fund, which is funded by the sale of state general obligation bonds. The Recreation and Conservation Office assures the projects are properly and efficiently designed and constructed and works closely with the Puget Sound Partnership to administer the grant program.

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