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Salmon aid dollars swim to Sequim area

A group that active salmon advocates call the "surf" board recently awarded more than $883,000 to three habitat restoration projects in Clallam County.

Every year for more than a decade, the state's Salmon Recovery Funding Board has weighed the effectiveness of submitted habitat restoration projects and allocated state and federal dollars toward the top-ranked projects' planning or implementation.

Over the years millions of dollars have been channeled into Clallam County projects and 2008 proves to be no different.

"These are solid dollars that will not be affected by next year's legislative session," said Cheryl Baumann, North Olympic Peninsula lead entity coordinator. "We are very excited about these three projects and will be following their sponsors through the process."

Lead entities are state-

statute-created groups of people from local governments, tribes, nonprofits and citizen groups that organize local salmon habitat restoration efforts. They are the link between local advocates and state recovery partners such as the Puget Sound Partnership.

Baumann's group oversees projects from Blyn to Cape Flattery.

This year Baumann and her staff started with five submittals for recovery board funding but tapered the list down to three. Those projects include a feasibility study for restoration work in Washington Harbor near

Sequim, a project's implementation at Salt Creek and a restoration project on Morse Creek.

After the recovery board meeting where allocations were finalized, Steve Tharinger, the board's chairman and a Clallam County commissioner, said the grant application process has gotten "more and more refined over the last 10 years to focus the limited funding on the most strategic projects through a bottoms up, citizen-based, scientifically-reviewed process."

By having different levels of review and lead entities to refine project proposals, the recovery board is able to coordinate projects from different regions to work together.



Clallam projects

The Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe received $116,697 to plan for and design a Washington Harbor restoration project.

The dollars will only fund the planning. The tribe will need to seek additional funding sources for the implementation of the plan developed from these recovery dollars.

Washington Harbor is adjacent to the entrance of Sequim Bay. It is within the 118-acre Bell Creek estuary that may be an overflow estuary for juvenile summer chum salmon that otherwise overcrowd the small Jimmycomelately estuary.

The tribe's habitat restoration planner Randy Johnson said the project is needed because the area is impeded by 1,300 feet of roadway with two undersized culverts that limit the fish's

access.

The Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe will use its awarded dollars to restore sections of Salt Creek. The plan is to add woody materials and restore the creek to the state it was in before the 1950s.

Dollars awarded to the Morse Creek project will be used for the restoration of a 1939 stream channel for reconnection of the creek with a 9.3-acre floodplain. The project also will include the installation of engineered logjams.

"What's interesting for the Morse Creek project is that it was chosen as one of 11 noteworthy projects the (salmon recovery) board identified as the high bar other organization proposals must shoot for," Baumann said, adding that the 11 noteworthy projects came from a list of 131.

"I think it speaks to the depth of the North Olympic Salmon Coalition."





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