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Clallam County gets $3.7 million in salmon recovery grants

Clallam County agencies received nine grants totaling $3.7 million from the Washington State Salmon Recovery Funding Board to protect and restore salmon populations.

The grants were part of $42.8 million awarded statewide.

"Salmon are an important part of Washington's economy and culture. These grants are helping us reverse the decline in salmon populations we've seen over the past two decades," said Salmon Recovery Funding Board chairman Steve Tharinger.

"These grants are not only good for salmon, the environment and the people of Washington, but they are good for the economy because much of this money will be awarded to local organizations to do restoration work in their local communities."

_ The Clallam County Community Development Department will use a $575,000 grant to buy 2.81 acres so the lower Dungeness River can reclaim 1.8 miles of its floodplain.

When the dike is moved back, floodwater will exit the channel, cross the floodplain and re-enter the channel on the land proposed for purchase by this grant.

This will release sediment, stop erosion and improve water quality associated with shellfish closure areas by providing critically needed floodplain and side channel habitat.

The river is home to Puget Sound chinook salmon,

which are threatened with extinction; along with other salmon species.

_ The Clallam Conservation District will use a $700,000 grant to replace about 2.8 miles of open irrigation ditches with pipelines to save water for salmon and improve water quality.

Piping the canals is expected to save about 2.5 percent of average summer flows in the Dungeness River and as much as 5 percent of late season low flows. As much as 50 percent of the water traveling in the open canals and ditches is lost through seepage and evaporation.

This project also will eliminate the polluted irrigation water discharges to Meadowbrook Creek, a tributary to Dungeness Bay, which is closed to commercial shellfish harvesting because of pollution.

The Dungeness River is used by Puget Sound chinook, which are threatened with extinction, Hood Canal summer chum, bull trout and Puget Sound steelhead, as well as Dungeness pink salmon (depressed) and Puget Sound coho (species of concern).

_ The North Olympic Salmon Coalition will use a $537,519 grant to remove part of a dike and install a log structure to reconnect a 3.77-acre depression with Morse Creek, creating off-channel habitat for salmon. The grant also will fund construction of side channels along a reconfigured mainstem of Morse Creek. The creek is home to steelhead, bull trout and pink, coho, chum and chinook salmon.

_ The North Olympic Land Trust will use a $527,693 grant to protect almost a mile of Jimmycomelately Creek by purchasing a voluntary land preservation agreement on 64 acres.

The project will help protect Hood Canal summer chum, which are threatened with extinction. The property has mature to old-growth forests.

The agreement will ensure no logging, road building or development will be allowed to occur within the forest along the creek.

The project will link the stream reaches above and below the project site that already are protected by a

$7 million restoration project downstream, along with state and federal forestland upstream.

_ The North Olympic Land Trust will use a $189,057 grant to permanently protect and rehabilitate 21.59 acres of Pysht River floodplain and channel migration zone.

The land contains about a quarter mile of the river and a mature stand of trees. The land trust along with the Makah Tribe will demolish structures on the land and remove non-native plants.

_ The Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe will use a $443,000 grant to place 300 pieces of large, woody debris by helicopter into more than 5 miles of Sadie Creek, East Twin River and Deep Creek.

Although the streams had previous large wood restoration treatments, a state science team recommended additional wood placements to further improve salmon habitat.

_ The North Olympic Land Trust will use a $139,808 grant to prioritize land important to salmon and other fish survival along the western portion of the Strait of Juan de Fuca from west of the Elwha River to Cape Flattery.

The ranking is based on importance to salmon, ecosystem function, market value and landowner willingness in order to develop a plan for key land protection and possible acquisition or easements.

_ The North Olympic Land Trust will use a $473,736 grant to conserve 27 acres along Siebert Creek. The creek flows out of Olympic National Park, where conditions are pristine. Downstream, the creek remains largely undisturbed and supports healthy populations of winter steelhead, cutthroat trout and coho salmon. Siebert Creek has ideal fish habitat throughout and landowners are willing to preserve the salmon habitat on their properties.

_ The city of Port Angeles will use a $121,996 grant to complete the design and permitting components for a project to restore a portion of Valley Creek.

The project will restore the creek into a lengthened, meandering stream with fish passage structures.

The creek is home to winter steelhead, cutthroat trout, coho and fall chum salmon.

This project is a partnership between the city and the Valley Creek Committee which previously worked to restore the Valley Creek estuary.

Reach Brian Gawley at bgawley@sequimgazette.com.

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