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Salmon recovery board contributes to marsh cleanup

A helicopter lifts creosote-treated wood from the Doe-Keg-Wats estuary March 15, 2011. Crews removed hundreds of treated logs from the marshland as part of a project coordinated by the Suquamish Tribe and the state Department of Natural Resources.   - File photo / 2011
A helicopter lifts creosote-treated wood from the Doe-Keg-Wats estuary March 15, 2011. Crews removed hundreds of treated logs from the marshland as part of a project coordinated by the Suquamish Tribe and the state Department of Natural Resources.
— image credit: File photo / 2011

SUQUAMISH — The Suquamish Tribe will receive $25,000 from the state, to match a $75,000 grant from the Foss Trustee Fund, to remove wood that accumulated for the past century from 1.5 acres at Doe-Keg-Wats marsh.

Doe-Keg-Wats — Place of Deer — is near Camp Indianola on the Port Madison Indian Reservation.

“These grants are very important in Washington,” said Don “Bud” Hover, chairman of the Washington Salmon Recovery Funding Board. “They give local groups the money they need to fix the rivers, estuaries and bays in their communities and they put local people to work.”

Paul Dorn, the Suquamish Tribe’s salmon recovery coordinator, said, “It’s hard to believe you have such a beautiful area — less than 10 miles from downtown Seattle, yet you have eagles, river otters, all kinds of things happening out there.

“The intent of this project is to restore some of this habitat back to its natural condition.”

All told, the board is awarding $19.2 million in grants to organizations around the state to restore and protect rivers and other waterways in an effort to bring salmon back from the brink of extinction.

Grant recipients will use the money to reconnect rivers and streams, remove barriers that prevent salmon from migrating, and replant riverbanks to shade and cool the water, creating places for salmon to reproduce, feed, rest and hide from predators.

Dorn said the logs and poles from cut trees “squash plants” and hinder salmon habitat. The logs will be removed via helicopter.

A secondary goal of the project is to document and evaluate the benefits and risks of removing the wood as a restoration strategy in estuarine marshes in Puget Sound. The marsh is used by chinook salmon, which are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, as well as chum, coho, pink salmon, and coastal cutthroat trout.

“[We’ll] watch as the estuary restores itself,” Dorn said.

Salmon populations in Washington have declined for generations. As Washington grew and built its cities and towns, it destroyed many of the places salmon need to live.

In 1991, the federal government declared the first salmon, Snake River sockeye, as endangered. By the end of that decade, populations had dwindled so much that salmon and bull trout were listed as threatened or endangered in three-quarters of the state. Those listings set off a series of activities, including the formation of the Salmon Recovery Funding Board to oversee the investment of state and federal funds for salmon recovery.

Local consortiums — Tribes, local governments, nonprofits — review project proposals and make decisions about which projects to forward to the board for funding. Projects are based on regional salmon recovery plans approved by the federal government.

Grant funding comes from the federal Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund and the sale of state bonds. Nearly $1 million came from the Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration Fund, which is dedicated to projects that support Gov. Gregoire’s initiative to restore the health of Puget Sound by 2020.

 

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