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Salmon habitat receives award

A salmon habitat in the Snoqualmie Watershed was awarded $320,000 recently by the state Salmon Recovery Funding Board.

The Raging River Preston Reach Restoration/Acquisition project was one of eight projects in King County to receive an award. The total amount awarded was $3.4 million.

The Raging River is a spawning area for Chinook salmon, which are listed as "threatened" under the federal Endangered Species Act. The project will restore seven acres of floodplain habitat in the Raging River by setting back 1,200 feet of levee and allowing the river to naturally meander. Up to 10 acres of floodplain habitat next to the project site may be purchased to preserve the value of the restored land.

According to Kirk Anderson, Snoqualmie Basin steward, this particular section of the river has a fairly wide floodplain, which provides the opportunity for the river to have a main channel and a side channel.

"This habitat diversity is really good for spawning Chinook," he said.

An additional $735,000 for the project is coming from the King Conservation District, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Conservation Futures Fund and King County.

Anderson said he hopes the project will be started this summer. A previous grant from the board helped pay for the design.

This and the other local projects that received awards vied with proposals from across the state in a rigorous evaluation process intended to identify the most effective and scientifically sound projects statewide. Across the state, the board allocated $26.6 million for 104 habitat acquisition, restoration and assessment projects. Funding from the board comes from the federal and state governments.

Before being sent to the state board for review, the project sponsors first had to present the proposals to local science panels and steering committees in each watershed. The steering committees are citizen-stakeholder groups that include representatives from local governments, environmental and business groups and federal and state agencies. The steering committees evaluated the proposals in terms of their benefit to salmon, certainty of success and level of community support. The board considers the local evaluation along with its own technical analysis when making its funding decisions.

While the primary focus of the projects is to protect and restore habitat used by salmon, the improvements to the aquatic ecosystems are expected to create benefits for people, too. Improved flood protection, waste assimilation and better recreational opportunities are a few of the ecosystem goods and services that will be improved through these projects.

For information on salmon habitat conservation in the watersheds, visit www.govlink.org/watersheds.

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