Yakima Basin nets grants for salmon recovery efforts

The Washington Salmon Recovery Funding Board announced last week the award of $1.26 million in grants to Yakima Basin organizations that will help bring salmon back from the brink of extinction.

“This year’s project list includes projects that will improve fish habitat in the Yakima Basin, benefitting landowners, local communities and fish,” said Mike Leita, Yakima County Commissioner.

The Yakima Basin Region includes Kittitas, Yakima and a portion of Benton counties. This year, the $1.26 million is divided into $772,974 for two projects in Kittitas County, $484,500 for two projects in Yakima County, and $5,976 for one project in Benton County.

The five local projects awarded funds during this year’s grant round range from designing levee setbacks near the City of Yakima to completing a large side channel restoration project in Kittitas County’s Cle Elum River.

Each project will implement recovery plan goals and improve places salmon use to reproduce. In addition to steelhead, the Yakima Basin once supported large populations of Chinook, coho and sockeye salmon, oceangoing lamprey, and migratory bull trout.

The local grant review process is coordinated by the Yakima Basin Fish and Wildlife Recovery Board, a consortium that include tribes, local governments, technical and biological experts and citizens all working together to spearhead local salmon recovery efforts.

They encourage and review project proposals and make recommendations about which projects to forward to the Salmon Recovery Funding Board for funding.

From 2005 to 2009, local governments, the Yakama Nation, state and federal biologists and stakeholders worked together to write a recovery plan that details what needs to be done to get Yakima steelhead off the Endangered Species List.

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