The Washington State Salmon Recovery Funding Board announced the awards at their meeting in Olympia on December 4. The Lower Columbia rivers and streams comprise 7 percent of the state and support 72 distinct salmon and steelhead populations, which account for 70 percent of the listed populations in the Columbia Basin.
As the regional lead the Lower Columbia Fish Recovery Board (LCFRB) evaluates, ranks and recommends grant proposals to the Washington Salmon Recovery Funding Board. The board was established by state law to oversee and coordinate salmon and steelhead recovery efforts in the region that extends from the mouth of the Columbia River up to and including the Little White Salmon subbasin in Skamania County and as far north as the Upper Cowlitz subbasin in Lewis County.
The 15-member Board includes a commissioner and citizen from each of the five southwest Washington counties, a representative from the southwest Washington cities, environmental organizations, hydro-electric operators, southwest Washington state legislators and the Cowlitz Indian Tribe.
Project development is guided by the Lower Columbia Salmon Recovery and Fish & Wildlife Subbasin Plan which takes a comprehensive life-cycle approach in charting a course to return Lower Columbia threatened Chinook, coho, chum and steelhead to healthy, harvestable levels. It is built on the premise that recovery is a shared responsibility that can only be achieved through the combined efforts of federal, state, tribal, and local partners.
Grant awards will fund habitat restoration projects such as restoring stream side vegetation, removing passage barriers to salmon habitat and restoring spawning and rearing habitat. Grants awarded in the latest round included:
--Wahkiakum Conservation District, $241,500. The district will use this grant to restore one mile of Wilson Creek, a tributary to Skamokawa Creek. The district plans to plant the river banks to reduce the erosion of fine sediment and place large logs and tree root wads in the river to slow the river and create more places for salmon to rest and hide from predators. The district will contribute $48,350 from a state and federal grant and donations of equipment, labor, and materials.
--Lower Columbia River Fish Enhancement Group, $69,000. The group will use this grant to produce two preliminary designs and one final design for groundwater-fed, off-channel spawning habitat for chum salmon, which are listed under the federal Endangered Species Act as threatened with extinction. Completion of these design projects will address factors that are limiting salmon populations, such as too much sediment smothering eggs, poor quality habitat, and water temperatures that are too high. Projects could be located potentially on the West Fork Grays River and the mainstem Grays River.
--Wahkiakum Conservation District, $89,395. The district will use this grant to restore nearly a quarter-mile of the Elochoman River. The district will place large logs and tree root wads in the river to slow the river and create more places for salmon to rest, feed, and hide from predators. The conservation district will contribute $20,000 from a state and federal grants and donations of equipment, labor, and materials.
Cowlitz Indian Tribe, $144,200. The tribe will use this grant to develop a design to restore spawning and rearing habitat for coho, chum, and chinook salmon and steelhead in the lower South Fork Grays River in Pacific County. The lower mile of the south fork is migrating and avulsing and has too much sediment and not enough large logs and tree root wads to slow the river and create places for salmon to rest, feed, and hide from predators. The goal of the project is to restore a multi-thread channel with stable, vegetated islands, pools, and well sorted gravel for eggs to benefit salmon and steelhead at all their life stages.
Cowlitz Indian Tribe, $82,500. In partnership with Rayonier, the tribe will use this grant to abandon two miles of logging roads perched above the Grays River in Pacific County. Abandoning the road will lessen the probability of catastrophic landslides that could deliver large volumes of fine sediment to the Grays River, smoothing vital salmon habitat. The tribe will contribute $82,500.