The Washington Salmon Recovery Funding Board awarded $475,220 in grant money in December to Jefferson County organizations for upcoming projects to restore salmon habitats.
The 10,000 Years Institute, the Jefferson Land Trust and the Pacific Coast Salmon Coalition all received funding for projects in the upcoming year. Those organizations are working to repair habitats along rivers and streams throughout the county.
“We’ve been working on the Hoh River since 2002, starting with knotweed,” said Jill Silver, the 10,000 Years Institute executive director.
The 10,000 Years Institute works to promote sustainable land use practices in forests, rivers, wetlands and estuaries.
“Because there was no funding for knotweed at the time, we helped develop the science, the methods, the outreach and ultimately the funding and the working groups that exist around that species,” Silver said. “It took me about five years of knotweed work to begin advocating for additional species to be added for funding. We have been achieving success in the last couple of years in broadening the scope of RCO funding for the Hoh River project, because it is clear that single-species management does not work.”
The 10,000 Years Institute received $242,350 in two Salmon Recovery Funding Board grants to prevent and control knotweed, Scotch broom, reed canarygrass, Canada thistle, herb Robert and tansy ragwort along the Hoh River and Goodman Creek.
“All these species are from Europe and Asia,” Silver said. “They arrived as ornamentals or in forage for livestock, and they all came without their natural enemies. (Invasive weeds) cause cascading effects in ecosystems by not only taking space, nutrients, water and light, but also by disrupting the symbiotic mycorrhizal fungal pathways that feed and support every native plant species.”
Non-native plants also can change the shape of river corridors, channels or banks, Silver said, and that can have an effect on salmon, which need streamside forests for shade, bugs to eat, clean water and large woody debris for pools, clean gravel and healthy spawning in the river. Wild chinook and coho salmon, steelhead, bull trout and cutthroat trout all are found in the Hoh River and Goodman Creek.
Past funding has allowed the 10,000 Years Institute to develop effective methods for controlling non-native plant species, but Silver said it is a continuous learning process.
“We’re making progress characterizing the issues, identifying the strategies and making the case for putting people to work early for prevention,” Silver said. “There is no end. This problem doesn’t go away, it never stops.
The prevention work has to be done forever, for all non-native invasive species. … It needs to be elevated to the same importance of, say, growing trees for timber industry, or building roads for transportation.”
The Jefferson Land Trust is doing prevention work by acquiring property.
With a $126,515 Salmon Recovery Fund Board grant, the land trust is planning to acquire 9 acres of property near Snow Creek in the Quilcene area.
“We’ve been working in partnership in the Salmon and Snow Creek watersheds for a number of years,” said Sarah Spaeth, director of conservation and strategic partnerships at Jefferson Land Trust. “These two watersheds and creeks enter into Discovery Bay estuary. Our partnership with the ‘Chumsortium’ partners, which includes WDFW, North Olympic Salmon Coalition, Jefferson County, local tribes, etc., has really been at play in that project area since the early 2000s, and has worked successfully to purchase estuary lands and riparian habitat and also conservation easements from landowners.”
By purchasing land and conservation easements, the land trust can work to preserve the forested spawning grounds of summer chum and coho salmon, to protect the water quality of the creeks, pull invasive weeds and reduce sedimentation in the creek.
Meanwhile, the Pacific Coast Salmon Coalition received $106,355 in grant funds to perform structural work in Morganroth Springs, Boulder Creek and Goodman Creek.
“We work on the restoration of stream processes, looking to make sure these streams are processing as functionally and as naturally as possible,” said Alex Huelsdonk, the PCSC executive director.
PSCS plans to work with the U.S. Forest Service to analyze and find a solution for a failing wooden fish ladder on the Morganroth Springs, remove creosote piling trestles from Boulder Creek, and remove materials from a collapsed bridge in Goodman Creek.
That will help remove potential toxins from the streams and restore them to their natural flow, Huelsdonk said.
These projects are just part of the work organizations statewide are doing to restore salmon habitat. The Salmon Recovery Funding Board awarded grants to organizations for 95 projects in 30 of the state’s 39 counties. This year, the board awarded nearly $18 million. An estimated 75 percent of the funded projects will benefit chinook salmon, which make up a large part of the southern resident orca whale’s diet.
“This funding helps protect one of our most beloved legacies,” Gov. Jay Inslee stated in a news 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.”