Clallam County seeking grants for Streamkeepers watershed-monitoring program

By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Clallam County is seeking a pair of state grants to enhance watercourse biological monitoring and pollution-identification efforts through June 2015.

The non-matching grants, which total $20,500, would come from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife's Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account.

They would be used by Streamkeepers of Clallam County, a volunteer-based watershed-monitoring program.

Streamkeepers Program Coordinator Ed Chadd told county commissioners Monday that the funds would be used to monitor pollution in and around Dungeness Bay and to buy supplies for a bug and juvenile fish study.

No commissioner objected to either grant application when discussed in a board work session Monday.

The $4,000 biological monitoring grant would support the continued surveillance of benthic macroinvertebrates — critters without backbones — and juvenile fish.

It would pay for such items as microscopes, alcohol, vials and mileage.

“This is essentially supplemental support of work we're already in process of doing, having to do with mostly bug sampling, but also we're branching out to juvenile fish,” Chadd said.

Clallam County used a similar grant last year to monitor bugs, and the volunteer responses exceeded expectations.

“We have more people who like picking bugs out than we have microscopes right now,” Chadd said.

“So we actually need to buy a couple more microscopes.”

Juvenile fish are being lured with bagels into minnow traps for the study.

“Part of this will be the bagel budget,” Chadd said.

“There's a lot of experimentation in figuring out what would work the best.

At first, it was cat food.”

Streamkeepers is working with the North Olympic Peninsula Skills Center, Lower Elwha Klallam tribe and North Olympic Salmon Coalition in the biological-monitoring study.

County Commissioner Mike Doherty said the program is helping the skills center to lead students into scientific fields.

“It's just a great kind of combination of actors, none of whom has the capacity to do this themselves,” Chadd said.

“But working together, we're managing.”

The $16,500 pollution grant would cover the non-staff costs of ambient monitoring within the Sequim-Dungeness Clean Water District.

It would replace an expiring grant that the county Health and Human Services department secured.

“There been kind of a hodgepodge of actors and funding sources over the last few years in terms of whose going to be carrying out the work,” Chadd said.

The grant would bridge a one-year funding gap beginning July 1.

“My hope is that we're going to have yet another monumental effort on the part of our volunteers, and that they're just going to carry the brunt of the work,” Chadd said.

“I think we can do it. The volunteers that have been involved in the Clean Water District sampling are pretty jazzed up about it. I think we've got the people that it would take to carry it off.”

Streamkeepers was moved from the auspices of the Community Development Department to Public Works and Roads in 2011 in part to get an understanding about the impacts roads have on watersheds.

Data from the pollution study would be shared by the Community Development and Health and Human Services departments.

For information on Streamkeepers, visit www.clallam.net/SK.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: February 24. 2014 6:42PM
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