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Fish passage projects around WA receive $25 million; Grays Harbor sees almost $600,000

Elma, WA – Nearly $600,000 is coming to Grays Harbor to assist fish barrier projects.

The Washington State Department of Transportation announced that more than 82 miles of streams in Washington will be opened up for migrating fish thanks to $25 million in grants from the Brian Abbott Fish Barrier Removal Board.

This includes $590,408 for Grays Harbor. No money was allocated for Pacific County.

The local money will be going to the Chehalis Basin Fisheries Task Force to replace three culverts on separate road crossings on Geissler Creek in order to open over 3 miles of habitat.

According to the release, the board will fund more than 50 projects in 20 counties to remove fish passage barriers that currently block salmon and steelhead from swimming upstream to their spawning areas. The most barriers to fish passage that exist now are are culverts, which may either be too high for fish to reach, too small to handle high water flows, or too steep for fish to navigate.

“These projects build on previous fish passage investments by the Washington State Department of Transportation, forest land owners, and local governments,” said Tom Jameson, WDFW fish passage manager and chair of the Brian Abbott Fish Barrier Removal Board. “We’re excited that several projects will focus on watersheds that are particularly good habitat for chinook salmon, which are the main food source for southern resident killer whales (orcas). We appreciate the Legislature’s support so we can continue contributing to salmon and orca recovery.”

Created by the Legislature in 2014, the Brian Abbott Fish Barrier Removal Board coordinates the removal of fish passage barriers on state, local, tribal, and private land that block salmon and steelhead access to prime spawning and rearing habitat. Funding comes from the sale of state bonds.

“This board represents an incredible partnership that ultimately helps us open entire watersheds where we can make the biggest impact for fish,” said Kaleen Cottingham, director of the Recreation and Conservation Office, which administers the grants. “A coordinated approach is key to helping fish reach the ocean, return home to spawn, and get to healthy habitats to feed, grow, and transition from saltwater to freshwater.”

Projects were evaluated based on coordination with nearby fish passage projects, benefit to salmon and steelhead populations listed as threatened or endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act, and cost-effectiveness. 

The committee also evaluated projects based on the severity of the barrier and its location in the watershed, prioritizing downstream barriers first.

The grant program is administered as a partnership between the board, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office. The board is named after Brian Abbott, who was a life-long fisherman, avid salmon recovery leader, and spearheaded creation of the board while serving as executive coordinator of the Governor’s Salmon Recovery Office.

Other board members include representatives from the Washington Departments of Transportation and Natural Resources, Washington State Association of Counties, Association of Washington Cities, the Governor’s Salmon Recovery Office, the Confederated Tribe and Bands of the Yakama Nation, the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, and Council of Regions.

 

Below is a list of fish passage projects funded in each county. 

Asotin County………….. $445,300

Chelan County………….. $982,885

Clallam County…………. $699,859

Clark County…………… $155,200

Cowlitz County……….. $1,095,293

Grays Harbor County…….. $590,408

Island County………….. $544,718

Jefferson County……….. $397,163

King County………….. $4,053,264

Kitsap County………… $2,561,337

Kittitas County………. $2,652,910

Lewis County…………. $1,606,571

Mason County…………. $1,180,395

Okanogan County………. $2,265,251

Pierce County…………… $90,000

Skagit County………….. $378,500

Snohomish County……….. $653,483

Thurston County………. $1,700,000

Walla Walla County……. $1,785,641

Whatcom County…………. $889,768

For project details, visit https://rco.wa.gov/documents/press/2019/FBRBGrantsDescriptions2019.pdf.

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