Walla Walla Salmon Restoration Projects Receive $ 860,000 in Grants | New

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Six projects in Walla Walla to monitor and improve conditions for salmonids in the high-water lands received more than $ 860,000, the National Recreation and Conservation Office said on Friday.

A classification of salmonids includes different fish, such as salmon, trout or whitefish. Salmonids are elongated, bony fish.

Four of the six projects will design or complete restoration work on streams and rivers in the valley, with the goal of improving the health of the waterway and the species of salmon or trout that pass through it. These projects, led by the Walla Walla County Conservation District, also hope to make the entire system more resistant to flooding and better recharge shallow aquifers.

To do this, the conservation district intends to use natural processes to restore the waterways, which are used by rainbow trout and bull trout, a type of salmonid protected under the Act. on endangered species.

Traffic jams and other wooden structures can simulate the effect of fallen logs on a river, slowing water flow, reducing erosion, and allowing small rocks to settle to the bottom of the stream. Reconnecting streams to their ancestral floodplains can also slow down water and create riparian wetlands, as well as reduce flood pressure on man-made protections like dikes.

Slow waters and rockier river beds create more spawning grounds for salmon, and logs provide shelter from predators. Artificially placed structures help fulfill a role that trees that grow along riverbanks and fall into the water over time do not fully fulfill, said Renee Hadley, geologist and district director for the conservation district.

“The conditions of the stream changed quite significantly once there was some colonization, because at that point we assume there were more trees and conditions a little different. “said Hadley.

As streams become more developed and vegetation on the banks becomes less abundant, the streams themselves change, often becoming narrower, faster, less complex, and with steeper banks. In addition to creating traffic jams, some of the conservation district projects would plant trees and bushes along the riverbanks, providing food for insects that the salmon can then eat, and also preventing the soil from sliding in the water and suffocate breeding fish.

Information on the conditions of pre-colonization of rivers is scarce, Hadley said, but the effect of this type of project is clear. After the 1996 flooding severely damaged the Touchet River corridor downstream from Waitsburg, the Conservation District carried out similar work in some of the worst affected areas.

Although the projects have secured funding under the auspices of Salmonid Protection, it is important to consider the additional flood resilience they could provide, especially as climate change and flooding continue to grow. frequent, Hadley said.

Three of the projects, which aim to restore approximately 3 miles in total of Coppei, Mill Creek and Touchet River, are in the design phase. These projects received approximately $ 270,000.

The fourth project, awarded nearly $ 250,000, will go towards actual restoration work on a half-mile stretch of the Walla Walla River.

A fifth project, managed by Tri-State Steelheaders Inc., received more than $ 180,000 to design a concrete fish ladder solution at Mill Creek, which is used by summer rainbow trout, bull trout and reintroduced chinook salmon.

The gravelly downstream side of the fish ladder, which migrating salmonids can use to navigate a steep slope, was severely eroded in the 2020 flood. This resulted in a nearly 5-foot-high jump that the fish must do to reach the last rung of the ladder. Grant funds will be used to hire a consultant to collect data on the region and suggest potential solutions.

The latest project to receive funding will be managed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and will continue to fund a salmon monitoring system that collects data on salmonid populations and helps inform decision-makers. The state has awarded more than $ 150,000 for this data collection.

Salmon recovery funds distributed each year went to 105 projects in 29 counties and totaled approximately $ 21 million. While projects were to be based on stimulus packages approved by the federal government, Washington state takes a bottom-up approach to selecting individual projects, with local organizations presenting projects to regional councils, who then turn to the State to obtain funding.

In the Walla Walla region, the Snake River Salmon Recovery Board acts as the regional lead for the projects.


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