State salmon money headed for Ohop Valley

About a quarter of the $1.1 million awarded by the state for salmon habitat work in Pierce County will be spent in the Eatonville area. The money is coming from grants announced in December by the state's Salmon Recovery Funding Board, which approved more than $19 million for salmon recovery projects throughout Washington. Nisqually Land Trust, a non-profit organization, will use $200,000 to buy and restore 11 acres in the lower Ohop Valley near Eatonville. The Land Trust has done similar work in that area, including major land acquisitions - some still in the planning stages - along the Nisqually and Mashel rivers as a way to protect and enhance salmon habitat and the surrounding environment. In a separate project, Pierce Conservation District will use $55,998 to remove Japanese knotweed near the Nisqually River. Among the other projets sharing in the $1 million-plus from the salmon board: \* Pierce County will use $105,520 to open up fish passage in Schoolhouse Creek on Anderson Island, and $229,621 to restore the Puyallup River floodplain at a location called South Fork, north of Orting. \* Greater Peninsula Conservancy will use $135,570 grant to buy 6.5 acres of coastal inlet estuary at the head of Case Inlet's Rocky Bay, which is used by various fish species. \* South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Group will receive $332,395 to install log jams in the Greenwater River, near the town of Greenwater, and $39,979 to restore shoreline in Filucy Bay, near Longbranch. All project sponsors will contribute additional funds or donate labor and materials for each project. "This funding provides needed money to help fulfill our commitment to restoring healthy salmon populations," said Harold Smelt, surface-water manager for the county's Public Works and Utilities Department. "The projects also support jobs and small businesses for the contractors hired to build them." Each project was reviewed by local panels of scientific and community members. Projects that were given the highest priority were forwarded to the state funding board for further review that focused on projects considered the most effective and scientifically-sound. Salmon populations in Washington have been declining for generations. In 1991, the federal government declared the first salmon, Snake River sockeye, as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). In 1999, Chinook salmon was listed as threatened with extinction under the ESA. Such listings in led to the formation of the Salmon Recovery Funding Board to oversee the allocation of state and federal funds for salmon recovery.


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