Washington Coast Restoration Initiative will fund projects that benefit jobs, communities and natural resources
The Washington State Legislature awarded $11.185 million from the Capital Budget for a suite of habitat protection and restoration projects along the entire Washington Coast, including the Quinault Indian Nation, as well as Pacific, Grays Harbor, Clallam, Wahkiakum, Jefferson, Thurston, Lewis, and Mason counties.
The Washington Coast Restoration Initiative (WCRI) will bring sustainable, family-wage jobs to dozens of small, rural communities from Neah Bay to the mouth of the Columbia.
"The projects in this Initiative will restore: access for salmon, improves stream habitat, addresses stream processes, improves and restores the riparian and upland habitat, reconnects wetlands and floodplains. It also brings much needed coastal jobs back to our coastal communities. Healthy forests, rivers, fish and wildlife on the Washington Coast are essential to our rural communities, which depend on these natural resources for sustenance and to make a living. The Washington Coast Restoration Initiative provides a means for both." states Key McMurry with Key Environmental Solutions, LLC.
Washington's coastal communities continue to struggle with some of the highest unemployment rates in the state. A coalition of coastal partners, including the fishing industry, coastal tribes, watershed groups, the conservation community, local government, state and federal agencies developed a prioritized package of projects that would critical restoration work and provide good-paying restoration and sustainable natural resource jobs. The Washington Coast Restoration Initiative would not have happened without the tireless work of: Senator Brian Hatfield, Representative Brian Blake, Representative Dean Takko and Senator Jim Hargrove.
Greenhead Slough Barrier Removal This project will replace the existing blocking culvert with a 70x26 ft steel bridge. It will assure the HY101 road prism is protected and repair the existing scour damages to the road prism which has occurred as a result of the undersized culvert. This project will build upon previous projects design activities for the bridge and will be the final element in restoring this 2,317 acre watershed and over 18 miles of salmon habitat. Preliminary design has been completed. The requested funds will be used for construction.
Lower Forks Creek Restoration The Lower Forks Creek Restoration Project is designed to restore the health and function of approximately 28 miles of habitat. The restoration will remove several in-stream concrete structures that are below the hatchery facility and add LWD from the intake down to the hatchery, which will provide the reach with much needed channel diversity, channel stability and the ability to capture gravels. The new riparian plantings along the lower reach will lower stream temperatures by providing shade and will provide bank stabilization.
Rue Creek Salmon Restoration The Rue Creek Culvert Replacement Project is designed to restore the health and function of approximately 16.5 miles of habitat. The two crossing are fish passage barriers and are barriers for Large Woody Debris (LWD) to move through the system and limits gravel movement through the system. By allowing LWD and gravels to move through the system will help restore the lower reach stream functions of Rue Creek. The undersized culverts have caused flooding over Rue Creek Road numerous times. This project has been a high priority project for the WRIA 24 LE and for Pacific County for many years.
Ellsworth Creek Watershed Restoration The Ellsworth restoration program is designed to restore the health and function of the entire 5,000 acre Ellsworth Creek watershed. This project will build upon previous accomplishments in which we have removed 15.7 miles of failing or unnecessary forest roads and upgraded another 26.9 miles as part of a program to realign the road system to safer ridge top locations and limit their impact on the aquatic environment. Funding for this project will remove an additional 4 miles of forest road and upgrade another 6 miles. The project will also leverage existing SRFB funding to permanently remove a bridge over Ellsworth Creek and concurrently complete large woody material placement within one mile of Ellsworth Creek.
"I am proud that our community has come together for priorities to protect salmon and create jobs," said Representative Dean Takko (D-Longview). "I grew up here and know firsthand just how much this work will mean for people from Ilwaco to Raymond"
"The removal of these barriers are key to restoring our wild fish runs and preserving our fisheries that contribute so much to our economy," said Representative Brian Blake (D-Aberdeen).
These restoration projects would also support healthy forests, rivers and marine waters; the foundation of Washington's coastal economy. A lack of consistent funding has undermined progress of ongoing protection and restoration needs.
The WCRI package will leverage $6 million in existing federal, state and private resources to pay for 33 restoration projects that will benefit both residents and the natural resources that provide local jobs. Restoration projects create more jobs than other types of construction sector projects. Ninety cents of every dollar spent on restoration stays inside the state, and 80 cents of every dollar stays within the county where a project is located.
"The Coastal Restoration Initiative is a critical step toward strengthening one of the most diverse economies of the state by preserving the commercial, recreational, and ecological value of coastal lands and waters," said The Nature Conservancy's Washington state director Mike Stevens. "We are grateful for the vision and hard work of local leaders to develop and implement this conservation package."