Federal grants aim to improve fish passage in region

Funding part of nationwide effort

PORT ANGELES — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has given groups on the North Olympic Peninsula $18.7 million to remove barriers and replace culverts to improve fish passage and infrastructure in the region.

NOAA is funding 10 projects across the state and 36 projects across the nation, totaling $38.9 million in grants for fish barrier removal.

The primary Peninsula beneficiaries of the funding — which was championed by U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Mountlake Terrace, and U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor — will be the Quillayute, Quinault and Hoh tribes, although proponents said there also will be impacts on the public as well as reservation infrastructure.

“These first projects from the NOAA’s Restoring Fish Passage Through Barrier Removal Program will jump start salmon recovery on the Olympic Peninsula by removing salmon-blocking culverts and other stream obstructions,” Cantwell said in a press release.

“Barriers like obsolete dams and impassable culverts prevent salmon from migrating to their spawning grounds in the Quillayute, Quinault and Lower Chehalis watersheds,” she added.

Said Kilmer: “Through these awards, the federal government is moving to restore fish passages and provide critical access to upstream habitat.

“That’s critically important if we’re going to recover the salmon populations that are so vital to our region’s economy, culture and way of life,” he added.

The majority of the grant, $10.4 million, is going toward replacing culverts in the Quillayute and Quinault watersheds. The aim is to improve access for native migratory salmon to their historic spawning areas.

The Wild Salmon Center has partnered with Coast Salmon Partnership, Trout Unlimited and the Quileute, Quinault and Hoh tribes to design, permit and remove nine culverts on county and tribal reserve roads.

This project, along with others, is part of the Coldwater Connection Campaign, an effort by multiple agencies to reconnect 125 miles of salmon and steelhead streams along Washington’s coastal areas, which will increase tribal capacity for fish passage restoration.

“We thank the entire Pacific Northwest delegation, especially Senator Cantwell and Representative Kilmer, for securing generational federal investments that can change the trajectory of salmon and orca recovery in the Pacific Northwest,” said Guido Rahr, CEO of Wild Salmon Center, in the release.

“We are at a critical juncture for these species and the tribes, economies, ecosystems and local communities that depend on them throughout the region. This investment builds resilience in our communities and our watersheds, ensuring that wild salmon and steelhead can access cold water needed to thrive in the face of a changing climate.”

The second largest chunk of the grant was given to Trout Unlimited, a little over $7 million that will go toward replacing eight fish passage barriers on the Peninsula, opening more than seven miles of spawning habitat for the salmon.

In these areas, the culverts will be replaced with structures that fish are able to swim through rather than get trapped in and will overall improve the resilience of salmon populations and transportation infrastructure.

The NOAA funding also will support hiring staff and support capacity building with the Hoh Tribe.

“Trout Unlimited’s ongoing partnership with NOAA is helping us recover critical populations of salmon, steelhead and trout and building resilience against the growing impacts of climate change for fish and communities,” said Chris Wood, President and CEO of Trout Unlimited.

The remaining $1.23 million was granted to the City of Hoquiam to pursue a feasibility study on removing the Hoquiam River Dam which would create 13 miles of habitat for Chinook and Coho salmon and steelhead trout.

“These first projects will make real progress in salmon recovery, including boosting stocks important to Southern Resident orcas and coastal ecosystems, as well as commercial, recreational and Tribal fishing communities,” Cantwell said.

More in News

KEITH THORPE/PENINSULA DAILY NEWS
Siena Vo, 2, of Da Nang, Vietnam roams through a lavender field at B & B Family Farm on Wednesday near Carlsborg.
Lavender star of weekend fest

Plethora of activities set for annual event

August primary ballots mailed

Races to be narrowed to top two candidates

David Faber.
Ethics complaint names Port Townsend mayor

18-page document details four points

Port Angeles City Council approves clean energy grant

City OKs lodging tax request, bed and breakfast ordinance

A kayker makes his way between the pilings of a former floating log yard near the entrance to Port Angeles Boat Haven. Pleasant conditions and calm waters are expected across most of the North Olympic Peninsula through the coming weekend. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Passing through

A kayker makes his way between the pilings of a former floating… Continue reading

Law enforcement officers arrest a man who allegedly led a high-speed chase from Port Angeles to Sequim along U.S. Highway 101 on Wednesday. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)
Man arrested following chase on U.S. Highway 101

Law enforcement officers arrested a man following a high-speed chase… Continue reading

Drought response activated on three water systems

Clallam County Public Utility District No. 1 has announced a… Continue reading

A Port Angeles public utilities crew vacuums out water and debris from a hole around a water main break on South H Street near West Sixth Street on Wednesday morning. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Public asked to avoid area of water main break in Port Angeles

Crews working at intersection of Sixth and H streets

Chloe Turner, a kennel technician with the Olympic Peninsula Humane Society, gives some attention to Dingo, a canine housed at the society’s Bark House campus. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Humane society closes Bark House, plans to sell

Executive director says monthly finances were ‘unsustainable’

State hopefuls address forum

Candidates discuss inflation, housing

c
Legislators learn effects of climate change in park

Kilmer: Day lodge funding could come in disaster supplement

Port Townsend City Council to interview four finalists for open seat

Sessions set Tuesday; selection expected Aug. 5