Washington state's Salmon Recovery Funding Board has awarded $18 million in grants to organizations, agencies, counties, cities and tribes seeking to help recover 17 species of endangered salmon, steelhead and bull trout throughout the state.

The board also approved $38 million for salmon recovery projects in Puget Sound, which await legislative approval of the Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration Fund next year.

The 91 grants include numerous projects to enhance habitat in the Columbia Basin. Among those projects:

  • In Benton County, Benton Conservation District will use $305,964 and contribute $54,000 to design and permit a project to increase cool water as resting spots for migrating adult salmon on the Yakima River. Proponents hope to deepen and expand a groundwater spring, and install a structure to delay mixing of cool water from Amon Creek.
  • In Cowlitz County, the Lower Columbia Fish Enhancement Group will get $249,860 to create fish passage through the Baird Creek splash dam, in place since 1901. The same group will get another $952,130 to enhance side channels in the Coweeman River and use logs and tree root wads to create areas for fish to rest, feed and hide from predators.
  • In Pend Oreille County, the Kalispel Tribe of Indians will get $237,250 from the board, and another $89,150 from Seattle City Light, to replace two culverts on Jungle Creek that block salmon migration.
  • In Clark County, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife will use $68,280 and contribute $15,757 in staff labor to develop a process to calculate and understand the effect of hatchery fish on wild salmon populations in the lower Columbia River region.

Across the state, the grants provide funding to remove 20 barriers to fish migration, open more than 45 miles of new habitat to salmon, restore 217 miles of stream and 292 acres of estuary, and conserve 64 miles of stream.

The funded projects are based on federally approved regional salmon recovery plans.

"These grants, along with the hard work invested by thousands of people working in our state to save salmon, have gone a long way to slowing the decline of salmon," Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said.

K.C. Mehaffey covers fish issues for Clearing Up, and is editor of the NW Fishletter. She joined the NewsData writing team in February 2018. From lawsuits to scientific studies, she is enjoying the deep dive into the Columbia Basin's many fish topics.