Some of the $44 million-plus in newly awarded state grants for salmon preservation projects is flowing south Pierce County's way. The Washington Salmon Recovery Funding Board and the Puget Sound Partnership last week announced $44.3 million in grants will go to organizations around the state for projects that will restore salmon habitat and conserve pristine areas in the continuing drive to bring salmon back from the brink of extinction. Among the projects are three involving the Mashel and Little Mashel rivers near Eatonville. "Salmon recovery is an important priority in Washington,GÇ¥ said Governor Jay Inslee. "We are preserving salmon for the families and businesses that rely on them for their livelihoods, their recreational pursuits and their culture or sustenance. We also are helping our communities restore lands that will yield other important values like resilience to flooding or habitat for a variety of other species. It's a smart investment any way you look at it.GÇ¥ Grants were awarded to organizations in 28 counties for a total of 141 projects. The work includes removing barriers that prevent salmon from migrating, increasing the types and amount of habitat for salmon, and conserving natural areas and replanting riverbanks so there are more places for salmon to spawn, feed, rest and hide from predators while making the transition from freshwater to saltwater and back again. In Pierce County, the grants total $4.6 million. The only county with projects getting more funding is Skagit, at $5.4 million. About half of the funding for Pierce County is going to the Eatonville area projects. They include: " Restoring the Mashel River. $1.1 million. The South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Group and partners will launch the third phase of a decade-long effort by installing engineered logjams and wood crib walls in the river, reconnecting a side channel, and planting about five acres of shoreline. Similar work has been done in other sections of the river. Officials said earlier losses of habitat is the largest limiting factor for salmon populations. Placing logjams in the river will create habitat for spawning fish. The engineered but natural-looking structures also will slow the river's flow, which reduces erosion and allows small rocks to settle to the riverbed, creating areas for salmon to spawn. The logjams also change the flow of the river, creating riffles and pools for additional habitat. Officials said reconnecting off-channel habitat increases the areas salmon can go to rest during high water flows, while planting trees and bushes along the shoreline helps shade the water, cooling it for fish. The plants also drop branches and leaves into the water, which provide food for the insects salmon eat. And the roots of the plants help keep soil in soil in place instead of eroding into the water, where soil can smother fish. For the project, South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Group will contribute $210,060 in federal money and other grants, plus donated labor. " Conserving the Mashel River. $724,165. Nisqually Land Trust will use the grant to buy 2.4 salmon-producing river miles, 1.7 tributary miles, 313 acres of shoreline habitat, and 60 acres of forest in the middle reach of the Mashel. According to the trust, the acquisitions will protect habitat for chinook salmon and steelhead, both of which are categorized as threatened with extinction under the federal Endangered Species Act, and will preserve land against logging and development. The Mashel is the largest tributary to the Nisqually River. To go along with the Salmon Recovery Funding Board grant, the Land Trust will contribute $149,335 in cash and another grant from the state's Wildlife and Recreation Program. " Conservation of the Little Mashel River. $129,370. This is another Nisqually Land Trust project. The organization will apply the grant funds toward a voluntary land preservation agreement on 5 acres on the east side of the stream, near the river's confluence with the Mashel River. The land includes about 700 feet of shoreline next to land owned and managed by the Land Trust and the Town of Eatonville. The goal is to prevent further residential development and damage to habit used by chinook salmon and steelhead. Zoning of the land allows as many as 20 homes there. The Land Trust will contribute $22,830 to the project. In a separate project related to the Mashel and Little Mashel efforts, Nisqually River Foundation has been awarded $41,500 to spend on monitoring hatchery and wild chinook in the restored Nisqually Delta, the largest tidal marsh recovery in the Puget Sound region. The Nisqually Tribe is working on developing a natural population of chinook. The delta monitoring will focus on juvenile chinook salmon throughout the lower Nisqually River, estuary and near-areas in south Puget Sound. The Salmon Recovery Funding Board has existed since 1999, when the Legislature created it to handle state grant funding for the protection or restoration of salmon habitat. The five-member board, appointed by the governor, includes Pierce County resident David Troutt, who is the Nisqually Indian Tribe's director of natural resources. The board also includes the directors of five state agencies GÇô Fish and Wildlife, Ecology, Conservation Commission, Natural Resources and Transportation GÇô that are involved with natural resources.