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$171K of salmon recovery funding goes to Deer Lagoon project

Island County will get grants totaling more than $1.1 million to help salmon recovery efforts.

The Washington State Salmon Recovery Funding Board recently announced the awards of $42.8 million in grant funding to protect and restore salmon populations.

“Salmon are an important part of Washington’s economy and culture. These grants are helping us reverse the decline in salmon populations we’ve seen over the past two decades,” said Steve Tharinger, chairman of the Salmon Recovery Funding Board.

“These grants are not only good for salmon, the environment and the people of Washington, but they are good for the economy because much of this money will be awarded to local organizations to do restoration work in their local communities.”

In Island County, projects on Whidbey and Camano islands will get $1,143,187 in grant funding.

The Wild Fish Conservancy will receive a grant of $171,650 to assess restoration projects in Deer Lagoon.

The Wild Fish Conservancy will look at what can be done to increase the amount and quality of salt marsh habitats open to juvenile salmon.

The conservancy will assess restoration strategies using hydrodynamic models that will simulate water elevations, erosion and deposition. The conservancy also will develop a partial design for a restoration project.

On North Whidbey, the Swan Lake Watershed Preservation Group will get a grant of $24,862. The group will use the grant to investigate options for opening the 100-acre, coastal marsh area of Swantown Lake to young salmon species, including Chinook salmon, as well as chum, pink and coho salmon, cutthroat trout and steelhead.

The restoration group is expected to provide a partial design for the most promising option.

On Camano Island, the Nature Conservancy will get a grant of $509,675 to permanently protect and restore 43 acres of important shoreline habitat in Port Susan Bay, including a 10-acre lagoon in Livingston Bay.

The Nature Conservancy will remove about 100 feet of artificial dike built more than 80 years ago and open the lagoon to tides. The project is part of a larger one to protect more than 3,000 acres of tidelands that are used by Puget Sound Chinook salmon and bull trout.

The Whidbey Camano Land Trust will get a grant of $147,000 to complete preliminary designs and prepare construction permit applications for restoring habitat-forming processes at the Shorecrest lagoon and the along Dugualla Bay on north Whidbey.

The restoration effort will open the areas to the tides and fish, creating roughly 6.4 acres of additional habitat.

The Whidbey Camano Land Trust will also get a grant of $290,000 to buy 39 acres that includes a piece of Skagit Bay waterfront. The land’s location near the mouth of the north fork of the Skagit River is important because it is the most used pathway for migrating Chinook salmon in the Skagit River delta and is near eelgrass beds, a prime feeding area for salmon.

Several populations of salmon were listed as endangered species in 1991, but by then, the number of salmon in the Pacific Northwest had fallen to only 40 percent of historic levels.

By 1999, almost three-fourths of Washington’s watersheds were affected by Endangered Species Act listings of bull trout and salmon. The listings led to the formation of the Salmon Recovery Funding Board, which oversees the investment of state and federal funds for salmon recovery.

Since 2000, the board has awarded nearly $404 million in grants, funded by federal and state dollars, for 1,307 projects.

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