Clallam gets more salmon money

Peninsula News Network

12/9/04

Clallam County is being awarded nearly a million and a half dollars in grants to fund further salmon habitat recovery.

Thatís the fourth highs amount of money given to 26-regions across the state.

The money comes from the State Salmon Recovery Funding Board and will be used for several projects.

-Dungeness River Railroad Bridge Reach Restoration, $729,065: 1.3 miles of the Dungeness River will be restored with large logjams and riparian reforestation.

-Dungeness Water Conservation, $501,160: More than 7 miles of irrigation ditches will be pipelined to conserve water in the Dungeness River for salmon.

-Morse Creek Restoration Phase II, $160,500: Following up on the Phase I acquisition of 120 acres along Morse Creek, this Phase II project will determine how best to restore the property for the benefit of salmon.

-Clallam River Habitat Assessment, $85,000: This study will lead to a prioritized list of projects to protect and restore salmon habitat in the Clallam River.

This latest grant brings the total given to Clallam County for salmon habitat projects to almost $11 million since 1999.

RELATED STORY:

Saving salmon $1.5 million at a time
Posted on Wednesday 08 December @ 12:34:15

Sequim Gazette

Four salmon recovery projects in Clallam County earned nearly $1.48 million in grant money from the state Salmon Recovery Funding Board this month.

The grant money is the fourth highest amount awarded among 26 regions across the state.
"I think it really points out the good work people are doing for salmon recovery," said county commissioner Steve Tharinger, D-Dungeness. Tharinger is a member of the Salmon Recovery Funding Board.
"I think what it shows is the North Olympic Peninsula has developed a good strategy and projects for the recovery of salmon," Tharinger said.
The funding board awarded $1,475,725 in grants for the North Olympic Peninsula during its funding meeting Dec. 3. This amount brings the total of funding board grants awarded to the North Olympic Peninsula to almost $11 million for salmon habitat recovery since 1999, when the board first began dispensing grants.

Dungeness River habitat improvement
Two of the four projects are in the Sequim area. One is a riparian reforestation and logjam project on 1.3 miles of the Dungeness River to improve salmon habitat near Railroad Bridge Park, north of Highway 101. The funding board awarded $729,065 for the project.
"That section of the river is very active," said Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe habitat biologist Byron Rot. The tribe is the lead entity in that restoration project.
Some of the gravel in that particular reach is football-sized, meaning the water is moving with extreme force.
"A fish can't spawn in that," Rot said. Creating anchored log jams replicates the natural river conditions that had been altered by human development - such as logging practices and the building of dikes, which prevent the water energy from dispersing over the floodplain, Rot said.
The logjams are intended to serve as a temporary fix until tree plantings mature and the river starts creating its own logjams naturally, Rot said. The logjams slow the progress of the water and create pools where fish can shelter and spawn, Rot said. He said this summer work will include surveys and engineering planning followed by construction of the logjams in the summer of 2006. In addition to the Salmon Recovery Funding Board grant, the program is paid for by a $150,000 grant from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Irrigation water conservation
The other Sequim-area project to receive a funding board grant is a plan to pipe irrigation ditches to decrease the amount of water that leaks and evaporates out of unpiped ditches. More water in the river means more water for salmon spawning during times of low water. The Dungeness River has threatened runs of chinook, bull trout, and summer chum.
The funding board promised $501,160 to pipe more than seven miles of irrigation ditches managed by the Agnew Irrigation District in the vicinity of Atterberry Road. The irrigation district will contribute an additional $88,440 in labor and machinery, the Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe will administer the project and the National Resource Conservation Service will provide engineering.
Mike Jeldness - manager for the Agnew Irrigation District and coordinator for the Water Users Association, which represents the seven irrigation districts and companies in the Sequim-Dungeness valley - said the amount of water saved by the piping project will vary depending on the time of year, weather, and how much demand irrigators have for water.
"It's not a same thing everyday kind of deal," Jeldness said.
The most water will be saved during late summer when evaporation loss is at its highest and the need is greatest for both irrigators and spawning salmon, Jeldness said. He said water is drawn out at about 6 cubic feet per second during that time of year and the piping will save about 3 cubic feet per second for the river.
Low water affects salmon in several ways: the temperature is higher, which is harmful to spawning; it is more difficult for the fish to move upstream when water is low; and there are fewer areas for fish to lay their eggs outside the main channel, which leaves the eggs more vulnerable to being scoured away.
"That's the issue," Jeldness said. "We'll save the most water when the chinook are running, the river is low and the temperature is hot."
The irrigation ditches - originally built by Sequim pioneers so they could farm the dry prairie - form a water-carrying matrix 163 miles long that wets some 5,871 acres of land, mostly dedicated to commercial agriculture. The ditches, owned and managed by companies through shares or maintained through public districts, carry water to the high point of every 40 acres on a budgeted schedule from April 15 to Sept. 15, in accordance with water rights granted by Clallam County in 1924.
The water in the ditch system is diverted from the Dungeness River in five places - with the uppermost diversion at Fish Hatchery Road - from where it flows downhill, pulled by gravity, to thirsty fields.
Although the acreage irrigated has held steady over the past decade, the amount of water used has decreased 30-40 percent, due mainly to piping and other irrigation improvements, leaving that much more water available in the river for fish spawning.
The project also has several fringe benefits. By piping the ditches it reduces the amount of pollution - such as oil, heavy metals, and gasoline - that drains into the ditches from the roads and bacterial contamination from fields, Jeldness said. The dirty ditchwater then runs into Matriotti Creek, and ultimately the Dungeness River and Dungeness Bay.
Shellfish harvests have been banned for several years in the bay because of dangerous levels of fecal coliform bacteria. "By piping this we're cleaning up Dungeness Bay," Jeldness said.
Roadside maintenance costs for the county and ditch association will also be cheaper because it costs less to mow a dry ditch than a wet one, and will also be safer for motorists, Jeldness said.
More information about salmon habitat recovery on the North Olympic Peninsula can be found at www.noplegroup.org, the Web site for the North Olympic Peninsula Lead Entity, which coordinates the funding board grants at the local level.

Where the money goes
Four projects in Clallam County were awarded $1,475,725 by the state Salmon Recovery Funding Board:
Dungeness River Railroad Bridge Reach Restoration, $729,065: 1.3 miles of the Dungeness River to be restored with large logjams and riparian reforestation.
Dungeness Water Conservation, $501,160: More than 7 miles of irrigation ditches will be pipelined to conserve water in the Dungeness River for salmon.
Morse Creek Restoration Phase II, $160,500: Following up on the Phase I acquisition of 120 acres along Morse Creek, this Phase II project will determine how best to restore the property for the benefit of salmon.
Clallam River Habitat Assessment, $85,000: This study will lead to a prioritized list of projects to protect and restore salmon habitat in the Clallam River.

--by Leif Nesheim
Gazette staff writer
Published 12.08.04


 

 

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