Regional News

State Invests $25 Million in Removing Barriers to Migrating Fish


Jul 25, 2019

Migrating fish soon will have access to more than 82 miles of streams in Washington, thanks to $25 million in grants from the Brian Abbott Fish Barrier Removal Board.

The board will fund more than 50 projects in 20 counties to remove fish passage barriers that block salmon and steelhead from swimming upstream to their spawning areas. The most common barriers to fish passage are culverts, which are large pipes or other structures that carry streams under roads. Culverts can be too high for fish to reach, too small to handle high water flows, or too steep for fish to navigate.

“These projects build on previous fish passage investments by the Washington State Department of Transportation, forest land owners and local governments,” said Tom Jameson, fish passage manager for the Department of Fish and Wildlife and chair of the Brian Abbott Fish Barrier Removal Board. “We’re excited that several projects will focus on watersheds that are particularly good habitat for Chinook salmon, which are the main food source for southern resident killer whales (orcas). We appreciate the Legislature’s support so we can continue contributing to salmon and orca recovery.”

Created by the Legislature in 2014, the Brian Abbott Fish Barrier Removal Board coordinates the removal of fish passage barriers that block salmon and steelhead access to prime spawning and rearing habitat on state, local, tribal and private land. Funding comes from the sale of state bonds.

“This board represents an incredible partnership that ultimately helps us open entire watersheds where we can make the biggest impact for fish,” said Kaleen Cottingham, director of the Recreation and Conservation Office, which administers the grants. “A coordinated approach is key to helping fish reach the ocean, return home to spawn and get to healthy habitats to feed, grow and transition from saltwater to freshwater.”

Selected projects went through a technical review committee, which evaluated project proposals based on their coordination with nearby fish passage projects, benefit to salmon and steelhead populations listed as threatened or endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act, and cost-effectiveness. The committee also evaluated projects based on the severity of the barrier and its location in the watershed, prioritizing downstream barriers first.

The grant program is administered as a partnership between the board, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office. The board is named after Brian Abbott, who was a life-long fisherman, avid salmon recovery leader, and spearheaded creation of the board while serving as executive coordinator of the Governor’s Salmon Recovery Office.

Other board members include representatives from the Washington Departments of Transportation and Natural Resources, Washington State Association of Counties, Association of Washington Cities, the Governor's Salmon Recovery Office, the Confederated Tribe and Bands of the Yakama Nation, the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, and Council of Regions.

Below is a list of fish passage projects funded in each county. Click to read descriptions of each project.

 

Asotin County............................. $445,300
Chelan County........................... $982,885
Clallam County.......................... $699,859
Clark County............................... $155,200
Cowlitz County........................ $1,095,293
Grays Harbor County................ $590,408
Island County............................. $544,718
Jefferson County....................... $397,163
King County............................ $4,053,264
Kitsap County.......................... $2,561,337
Kittitas County......................... $2,652,910
Lewis County.......................... $1,606,571
Mason County......................... $1,180,395
Okanogan County.................. $2,265,251
Pierce County............................... $90,000
Skagit County............................. $378,500
Snohomish County................... $653,483
Thurston County..................... $1,700,000
Walla Walla County............... $1,785,641
Whatcom County....................... $889,768

Okanogan County Grants Awarded: $2,265,251

Trout Unlimited Grant Awarded: $489,673 Improving Fish Passage in Johnson Creek

Trout Unlimited will use this grant to restore passage at the Johnson Creek State Street crossing in Riverside. Improving passage there will provide unimpeded access for Chinook salmon and steelhead trout to high-quality, upstream spawning and rearing habitat. Funding for this project will design and implement corrections for the culvert and channel erosion downstream of the culvert. This project will benefit Chinook salmon and steelhead trout, both of which are listed as threatened with extinction under the federal Endangered Species Act; and cutthroat trout. Trout Unlimited will contribute $90,000 in federal and other grants. Visit RCO’s online Project Snapshot for more information and photographs of this project. (19-1594)

Trout Unlimited Grant Awarded: $1,294,908 Replacing a Johnson Creek Culvert

Trout Unlimited will use this grant to replace an undersized culvert on Johnson Creek near the town of Riverside and correct an upstream trash rack, which is designed to keep garbage from getting into the creek. This project will help migrating steelhead and resident trout and Chinook salmon access high-quality upstream spawning and rearing habitat. Visit RCO’s online Project Snapshot for more information and photographs of this project. (19-1595)

Trout Unlimited Grant Awarded: $480,670 Restoring Fish Passage in Johnson Creek

Trout Unlimited will use this grant to restore passage for Chinook salmon and steelhead trout in Johnson Creek where it crosses Green Acres Road, west of Riverside. The project will help fish access high-quality, upstream spawning and rearing habitat. Visit RCO’s online Project Snapshot for more information and photographs of this project. (19-1631)


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