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Salmon Recovery Board awards almost $76 million in grants to recover salmon

OLYMPIA–The Washington State Salmon Recovery Funding Board has awarded of nearly $76 million in grants across the state to help ensure the survival of salmon in Washington. San Juan County was awarded $671,434 for four projects. The details are at the end of this article.

 Weeks Point at high tide on Lopez Island Photo courtesy of NW Straits Marine Conservation

The board also approved an additional $58 million in grant requests for 55 projects through the Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration program once funding is approved by the Legislature in 2023. If approved, the combined funding would be the largest amount of money directed at salmon recovery in a single year since the board was created 23 years ago.

The grants that were funded  went to 138 projects in 30 of the state’s 39 counties. The grants will pay for work to restore salmon habitat, including repairing degraded habitat in rivers, removing barriers blocking salmon migration and conserving pristine habitat.

“This is incredibly important work,” said Gov. Jay Inslee. “The projects will help restore salmon across the state. That means more salmon for our endangered orcas, more jobs for people and industries that rely on salmon and improved habitat that can better protect us from floods and the effects of climate change.”


GRANTS AWARDED in SAN JUAN COUNTY $671,434

Reassessing Eelgrass Health in San Juan County | Friends of the San Juans |Grant Awarded: $223,786

The Friends of the San Juans will use this grant to assess eelgrass health in San Juan County. The funding would reassess areas evaluated in 2003, providing updated mapping data and Salmon Recovery Grants Awarded 2022 37 supporting an analysis of what has changed during the past 20 years. The results will expand the understanding of the status of eelgrass and improve the effectiveness of recovery efforts. In 2003, the Friends of the San Juans and the Washington Department of Natural Resources mapped the deep-water edge and shoreline extent of eelgrass for all the marine shorelines in the county and surveyed 19 embayments. The area is used by Chinook salmon, which is a species listed as threatened with extinction under the federal Endangered Species Act. The Friends of the San Juans will contribute $52,500 in another grant and donated services. The friends group is requesting an additional $73,714 from the Puget Sound Acquisition and Requisition grant program that will be considered by the Legislature in 2023. Visit RCO’s online Project Snapshot for more information and photographs of this project. (22-1423)

Removing a Bulkhead on Weeks Point | Northwest Straits Marine Conservation Foundation | Grant Awarded: $170,000

 The Northwest Straits Marine Conservation Foundation will use this grant to remove a 1950s, 160-foot long, timber bulkhead. The bulkhead contains toxic creosote components, which are leaching contaminants into the water. For decades, the bulkhead has inhibited natural sediment accumulation along the shoreline and instead promoted scouring of sediment.

The land is at the tip of Weeks Point, a peninsula that separates Fisherman Bay from Weeks Wetland, a significant estuarine wetland to the east. Removal of the bulkhead, restoration of the beach, and rebuilding of shoreline habitats will result in significant habitat improvements in an area that is home to Pacific sand lance and likely Chinook salmon. Restoring the beach will restore the natural sediment drift pattern along the point, expand the spawning habitat for the fish salmon eat, and serve as a model for other landowners. The area is used by Chinook salmon, which is a species listed as threatened with extinction under the federal Endangered Species Act, and by coho salmon, which is a federal species of concern.

The Northwest Straits Marine Conservation Foundation will contribute $45,757 in a grant from the state Estuary and Salmon Restoration Program and donated cash. Visit for RCO's online Project Snapshot more information and photographs of this project. (22-1418)

Studying the Feasibility of Moving Backshore Roads | San Juan County Department of Environmental Stewardship | Grant Awarded: $170,000 

The San Juan County Department of Environmental Stewardship will use this grant to determine if three, high-priority degraded shorelines can be restored for habitat for juvenile salmon and the fish they eat. The County will be considering whether roads and utilities can be moved, removed, or abandoned and the cost involved.

The County also will hold a series of meetings to educate neighboring communities about the benefits of restoration and the risks to infrastructure and property with sea-level rise and more severe storms, and to seek participation in the decision on whether to manage retreat from the shorelines. Restoration concepts and maps will be created as part of the feasibility study.

The County will use the work to prioritize Salmon Recovery Grants Awarded 2022 38 and pursue funding to restore sensitive shoreline habitats that serve endangered salmon and the fish they rely on for food. The area is used by Chinook salmon, which is a species listed as threatened with extinction under the federal Endangered Species Act.

San Juan County will contribute $30,000 in staff labor. Visit RCO’s online Project Snapshot for more information and photographs of this project. (22-1428)

Conserving McArdle Bay Shoreline | San Juan Preservation Trust |  Grant Awarded: $107,648

The San Juan Preservation Trust will use this grant to buy a voluntary land preservation1 agreement for nearly 12 acres of McArdle Bay shoreline on southern Lopez Island. The land includes high-quality near-shore habitat, about 346 feet of shoreline, 212 feet of a pocket beach with overhanging vegetation, and a mid-sized feeder bluff.

Protecting the land from development will help protect the ecological attributes of McArdle Bay, which are key to the success of juvenile salmon using the San Juan Islands. The bay is used by Chinook salmon, which is a species listed as threatened with extinction under the federal Endangered Species Act.

The San Juan Preservation Trust will contribute $634,650 in staff labor and donations of cash and land or property interest. This project received partial funding in 2021. Visit RCO’s online Project Snapshot for more information and photographs of this project. (21-1148)

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