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$24.2 Million for Northwest Washington Fish Passage Projects Recommended funding comes from Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act

On May 23, 2024, Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02), the lead Democrat on the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, announced a total of $24.2 million in recommended funding for three Tribal projects to remove and replace fish barrier culverts and restore access to healthy habitat for migratory fish, including endangered salmon populations, in Northwest Washington.

“Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act, the Tulalip, Swinomish and Sauk-Suiattle Tribes and their partners have the critical funding they need to improve fish passage and foster salmon recovery in Northwest Washington,” said Larsen. “I will continue to champion robust federal funding to improve salmon habitat connectivity and boost resiliency to ensure Washington meets its treaty obligations to Indian Tribes.” 

The awards are recommended under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Restoring Fish Passage through Barrier Removal Grant and Restoring Tribal Priority Fish Passage through Barrier Removal Grant initiatives, which are funded through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act. 

Three WA-02 Fish Passage Projects Recommended for Funding

NOAA recommended a total of $24.2 million in grant funding for three projects in Washington’s Second District: 

One grant under the Restoring Fish Passage through Barrier Removal Grant initiative:

  • $11.7 million for the Tulalip Fish Passage Collaborative I
    • The Tulalip Tribes will work with partners to plan and construct multiple barrier removals in several watersheds in the Stillaguamish and Snohomish Basins, part of the South Whidbey Basin in Puget Sound.
    • This work will support several salmon and steelhead species that are of economic, recreational, and cultural importance to the Tulalip Tribes and other members of the local community.
    • By removing or replacing undersized and aging culverts with structures designed to withstand climate change, these efforts will also help protect the community from flooding.

 Two grants under the Restoring Tribal Priority Fish Passage through Barrier Removal Grant initiative:

  • $9.2 million for Tulalip Fish Passage Collaborative II
    • The Tulalip Tribes will work with partners to remove multiple fish passage barriers at priority streams in the Stillaguamish and Snohomish Basins, part of the South Whidbey Basin in Puget Sound.
    • This effort will open significant habitat to access by threatened Puget Sound Chinook and steelhead, as well as Puget Sound coho. It will also benefit Southern Resident killer whales, a NOAA Species in the Spotlight, by supporting their prey.
    • Climate change considerations will be incorporated into the barrier replacements, to help prevent flooding and increase community resilience.
  • $3.3 million for Skagit Basin Tribal Priority Fish Passage Implementation
    • The Skagit River System Cooperative, which provides natural resource management services for the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community and the Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe, will remove or replace seven culverts that block fish passage in the Skagit and Samish watersheds. They will also assess the feasibility of one additional fish passage project.
    • This project will support tribal capacity to develop and engage in fish passage projects and provide a hands-on opportunity for tribal members and youth to participate in habitat restoration. 

Additional Information

NOAA is recommending nearly $240 million in funding for 46 fish passage projects this year, as well as an additional $38 million in funding in future years. Total demand from all four of the NOAA Fisheries Office of Habitat Conservation Round 2 competitions is $3.5 billion, more than 6 times the amount of funding available. 

For more information on NOAA’s announcement and fish passage initiatives, click here.

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