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Chinook salmon

Cowlitz County will receive nearly $1 million and Wahkiakum County will receive about $424,000 for salmon habitat restoration projects, the state Salmon Recovery Funding Board announced Monday.

Among the projects targeted by these grants will be a major projects on the lower Ostrander Creek.

The Cowlitz Indian Tribe will receive about $400,000 to install 18 logjams and improve habitat along 0.6 miles of Abernathy Creek, according to a press release. The restoration project will improve spawning and rearing habitats for coho and Chinook salmon, both of which are listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. Logjams create pools for fish to rest and hide from predators. They also slow the current, which reduces bank erosion and the chances that sediment will smother salmon eggs.

The tribe will also receive another $100,000 to restore fish habitat in Ostrander Creek by removing an underground railroad culvert that is blocking fish passage. The project will open up about 10 miles of habitat to benefit coho, Chinook and chum salmon and steelhead trout, all of which are listed as threatened. The tribe will contribute $462,000 in a local grant.

Lower Columbia River Fish Enhancement Group will receive about $490,000 for two projects. The first project is $390,000 to restore about 1.3 miles of the Coweeman River by replacing habitat structures, removing floodplain barriers, improving fish passage and restoring shoreline habitat to benefit Chinook and coho salmon and steelhead trout. The group will contribute $69,000 in donations of labor and materials.

The group will also receive nearly $100,000 to design habitat for Chinook, coho and steelhead in the South Fork Toutle River. The project will improve stream, riverbank, off-channel, side channel and floodplain habitats within 2 miles of the river.

The Fish Enhancement Group will also receive about $250,000 for a project in Wahkiakum County to restore Fossil Creek and the Grays River. The group will plant trees and shrubs along 16 acres of the waterways and place logjams in about a half-mile of the creek and river. Riverbank plantings will help shade the water, cooling it for fish, and provide food for the insects salmon eat and places for the fish to rest and hide from predators. The enhancement group will contribute $45,000 in donations of cash and labor.

The Wahkiakum Conservation District will receive $125,000 to control aggressive and invasive knotweed along the Elochoman River. Knotweed pushes out native plants and is difficult to remove. The conservation district will work with landowners to evaluate the extent and amount of invasive knotweed, treat plants with herbicide, plant native plants and educate landowners about how to monitor and treat invasive species. The district will contribute $175,000 in a state grant.

Finally, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife received $49,065 to remove structures at the Elochoman Fish Hatchery, install logjams and restore floodplain connections.

The $18 million in funds awarded statewide this week for salmon recovery are estimated to provide up to 470 jobs during the next four years and up to nearly $50 million in economic activity, according to the press release. It is estimated that about 80 percent of these funds stay in the county where the project is located.

“This funding helps protect one of our most beloved legacies,” Gov. Jay Inslee said in the press release. “Together we’re taking a step forward for salmon, and in turn dwindling southern resident orca whales, while also looking back to ensure we’re preserving historic tribal cultural traditions and upholding promises made more than a century ago.”

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