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Salmon recovery dollars swim to Sequim

More than $5 million flowing into the county will help fund the peninsula threatened species advocates' dictum - extinction is not an option.

The 2007 Salmon Recovery Funding Board allocations, the largest to date, mark the highest number of projects ever funded in Clallam County by the board, a total of 11 out of 186 awarded statewide.

"These projects are developed and supported by local watershed groups and reviewed by a panel of scientific experts to ensure that the projects funded will be the most effective in bringing salmon population back from the brink of extinction," said Steve Tharinger, SRFB chair and Clallam County commissioner. "The grant dollars are a mixture of federal and state funds."

The process begins with a perceived problem, such as a city of Sequim project site where fish passage is constrained in an area used by summer chum salmon. The Pitship Pocket estuary project, funded by a $380,250 grant, replaces an undersized culvert under West Sequim Bay Road with a bridge that would provide a wider, more hospitable channel.

"The Pitship Pocket project really highlights the estuarine and near-shore kind of projects the board has begun to pay closer attention to," Tharinger said. "Plus, the fact that the city is involved is great because for the most part the cities in general haven't had many restoration projects."

The process a group takes to receive a grant is tenuous at best, according to Cheryl Baumann, coordinator of the North Olympic Peninsula Lead Entity. Baumann's group submits grant proposals to the funding board. She works directly with group members, including government, tribal and citizen representatives, to cultivate their ideas into grant proposals.

"We sponsored a project and the lead entity helped our strategy evolve into the plan that was finally accepted by the funding board," said Dan Golner with Ducks Unlimited, a newcomer to the Dungeness Valley. "There is a great potential for partnerships in Clallam County and we're excited to move forward with this restoration project."

Dungeness Habitat LLC, a Seattle-based organization, is working with Ducks Unlimited to design restoration work on 21 acres of wetlands bordering Meadowbrook Creek off Three Crabs Road. A grant of $67,991 will help Dungeness Habitat create a plan to restore the former horse pastureland by possibly reconnecting the creek with the Dungeness River system, providing wintering habitat for threatened fish. The North Olympic Land Trust also helped organize a conservation easement, which will keep the restored wetland as habitat for years to come.

Proposals such as the one from Golner compete with other projects in a rigorous evaluation process intended to identify the most effective and scientifically sound projects statewide.

"Being in the position that I'm in with the county and on this board is very helpful because I remain abreast of what's going on locally and statewide," Tharinger said, touching on the increased dollar amounts coming to Clallam County. "But as a SRF board member, I look to make sure project strategies are effective and encourage the link we have between on-the-ground ideas and our board's scientific review."

Two approved projects, sponsored directly by Clallam County, aim at further restoring the mouth of the Dungeness River and its associated flood flats. One $953,200 grant helps the county plan, design and get necessary permits for setting back dikes on both sides of the river's lower channel, restoring habitat along 1.8 miles of its length.

The second grant of $846,800 helps fund the acquisition of land along the river's mouth and floodplain, the restoration of which is essential for threatened fish populations to regain momentum against faltering numbers.

Finally, the board allocated $300,000 to the Clallam Conservation District to replace about 2.8 miles of open irrigation ditch for additional irrigation conservation in the valley.

Each of the projects has several partner groups teaming up for optimal use of time and funds. Each of the groups offered dollars to match those given by the funding board.

For more information about the State Salmon Recovery Funding Board, visit www.rco.wa.gov/srfb. To find out more about the North Olympic Peninsula Lead Entity, visit www.noplegroup.org.





Clallam County projects that made the

Salmon Recovery Funding Board cut include:



• Clallam County received $953,200 to set back lower Dungeness River dikes.

• The North Olympic Salmon Coalition received $380,250 to restore Pitship Pocket estuary.

• Clallam Conservation District was awarded $380,000 to replace Sequim irrigation ditches.

• Ducks Unlimited received $67,991 for a plan to restore wetlands along Meadowbrook Creek.

• Clallam County received $846,800 to acquire land along the lower Dungeness River floodplain.

• Clallam Conservation District received $305,000 to decommission Goodman Creek Road.

• Clallam County received $267,000 to restore the Elwha River estuary.

• The Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe was awarded $380,000 to plan restoration of the Pysht River estuary.

• The Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe received $337,000 to place woody debris in the Pysht River.

• The Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe received $979,086 to replace culverts in the Salt Creek watershed.

• The North Olympic Salmon Coalition received $200,000 to design a restoration plan for Morse Creek.



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