Yakima Basin receives $1.2 million for salmon recovery

12/4/2014  By Dan Thesman - KVEW

The Washington Salmon Recovery Funding Board announced nine grants to organizations in the Yakima Basin that will help bring salmon and steelhead back from the brink of extinction.

“Today, the SRFB awarded a total of $1.2 million to 9 projects in the Yakima Basin. All of these projects were recommended to the SRFB by the Yakima Basin Fish & Wildlife Recovery Board,” said Obie O’Brian, Kittitas County Commissioner and Board chair. “We are proud to have brought together local citizens, biologists, and elected officials to identify and prioritize a great group of projects that will improve fish habitat in the Yakima Basin and benefit landowners, farmers, and local communities.” The Board is partnership of tribal, county and city governments that is the designated Lead Entity for the Yakima Basin. Each year, the Board convenes a technical and citizens committee that reviews and ranks all the proposed SRFB projects for the Basin.

From 2005 to 2009, the Board worked with the Yakama Nation, local stakeholders and federal and state agencies to write a recovery plan that details what needs to be done to get Yakima steelhead off the Endangered Species List. Now, each year we work with the Salmon Funding Recovery Board to get funding to the projects that do the best job of implementing that plan. It’s a great example of how we are working together in Washington State to create strong, locally supported and scientifically sound strategies for salmon recovery.

The Yakima Basin includes Kittitas, Yakima and Benton Counties. This year, the $1.2 million is divided into $508,666 for three projects in Kittitas County, $411,282 for four projects in Yakima County, and $133,766 for one project in Benton County. An additional $183,810 was awarded to a project with sites in both Kittitas and Yakima Counties. These nine projects range from fish passage and irrigation diversion improvements in the Ellensburg area to floodplain and habitat enhancements in Yakima County’s Oak Creek, and improved fish screening on the mainstem Yakima River in the Tri-Cities. Each project will implement recovery plan goals of improving places salmon use to reproduce and grow on their way to and from to the ocean. For more information on specific projects, see http://www.ybfwrb.org/2014-srfb-process/

In addition to steelhead, the Yakima Basin once supported large populations of Chinook, coho, and sockeye salmon, oceangoing lamprey, and migratory bull trout. While only bull trout and steelhead are listed under the ESA, all of these species are significant to our Basin, and will benefit from the projects approved today.

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