BPA to spend $2.2 million to protect fish

Associated Press (The Spokesman Review)

ELLENSBURG, WA - 3/22/02 _ The Bonneville Power Administration is committed to spending $2.2 million over the next three years to protect fish and fish habitat in Kittitas and Yakima counties.

"It's a done deal," BPA spokesman Mike Hansen said Thursday.

The money will help irrigation districts and rural property owners comply with state and federal laws to protect fish, particularly when irrigation water is being drawn from one of the Yakima River's tributaries, said Carol Ready, a water quality specialist for the Kittitas County Water Purveyors.

Steelhead and bull trout in the Yakima River system are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

The money will be used for such plans as designing and installing screens and bypasses in waterways and removing migratory fish barriers, such as small dams and culverts, Ready said.

Some of the money will be used on farms, to make irrigation systems more efficient or to improve streamside habitat.

The money will be paid under the Yakima Tributary Access and Habitat Program. There will be $730,000 available this year, and the remainder will be divided up for the next two years, Hansen said.

The Kittitas County Water Purveyors, formed in 1999, is a coalition of large and small irrigation districts and companies in Kittitas County.

Other participants in the project include the Kittitas County Conservation District, the North Yakima Conservation District, the Ahtanum Irrigation District in Yakima County, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.


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