September 28, 2001
Contact: Jane Banyard, (360) 902-2572
Elizabeth Rodrick, (360) 902-2696
Federal conservation grants cheer WDFW director
OLYMPIA – The state's top fish and wildlife official today said he is "absolutely elated" by news that nine wildlife conservation projects in Washington have been chosen to receive federal grants totaling $3.7 million.
"This is truly great news," said Jeff Koenings, director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). "These awards will allow us and our partners throughout the state to move forward on projects of critical importance to plants and animals that have been listed as threatened or endangered."
The grants, announced earlier this week by U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Gale Norton, are the first to be awarded under a provision of the federal Endangered Species Act. Washington received more than half of the $7.2 million in grants awarded to states in the Pacific region, which includes Washington, Oregon, California and Hawaii.
Two of the grants, one in Thurston County and the other in Pacific County, are designed to help WDFW and partnering conservation programs purchase properties that offer prime habitat for species ranging from the mardon skipper to cutthroat trout.
The remaining seven grants will help counties, conservation districts and non-governmental organizations develop Habitat Conservation Plans that will guide protection of sensitive areas from the Skykomish River to the Walla Walla Basin.
As sponsor for state applicants, WDFW worked with the regional office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife to ensure grant proposals met federal criteria, Koenings said.
"These projects qualified for federal support based on their merits," Koenings said. "The fact that we did so well in the competition for grants demonstrates the importance of these projects in protecting depressed species."
The nine projects that qualified for federal grants in Washington state include:
Land Acquisition Grants
- Ellsworth Creek Watershed Project (Pacific County) – A $900,000 grant will purchase approximately 400 acres of an 800-acre site that would be permanently protected and enhanced to promote the recovery of three federally listed species (marbled murrelet, northern spotted owl and bald eagle), the federally proposed threatened coastal cutthroat trout, a federal candidate species (coho salmon), and several state and federal species of concern. Implementation of this project will follow the acquisition of other land to protect the 5,500-acre Ellsworth Creek watershed. (Sponsor: The Nature Conservancy of Washington)
- South Thurston Prairie Protection Project (Thurston County) – A $1 million grant will enable partners to acquire approximately 200 acres of Puget Trough forested, prairie and wetland habitat. Acquisition of this land will permanently protect habitat for two federally listed plants (golden paintbrush and Howellia aquatilis), four federal candidate animal species (mardon skipper, Oregon spotted frog, Mazama pocket gopher and Whulge checkerspot) and five state-listed and candidate species. (Sponsor: WDFW)
Habitat Conservation Plan Grants
- Walla Walla Watershed Basin-Wide Habitat Conservation Plan (Walla Walla and Columbia Counties, WA and Umatilla County, OR) – This grant allocates $500,000 to help a diverse work group representing both Washington and Oregon develop an HCP designed to protect and extend critical steelhead and bull trout habitat. The HCP will guide efforts to improve stream flows and ensure fish passage around dams on streams in the watershed, improving migration for endangered fish and connecting isolated populations to improve prospects for recovery. This HCP will also foster conservation efforts for other aquatic species on non-federal lands in the Walla Walla basin. (Sponsor: Walla Walla County)
- Scatter Creek Watershed Habitat Conservation Plan (Thurston County) – The grant provides $300,000 to develop an HCP encompassing the entire Scatter Creek Watershed (27,423 acres). This plan would likely cover more than 30 species – from the bald eagles to coho salmon – listed by the state or federal government as endangered, threatened or of special concern. (Sponsor: Thurston Conservation District)
- Multi-species Habitat Conservation Plan for Douglas County (Douglas County) – This County-wide HCP will improve land management across a landscape of 1 million acres to benefit 63 species. Listed species to benefit from this HCP, which will receive a $358,260 grant, include bull trout, steelhead, spring chinook, and bald eagle. (Sponsor: Foster Creek Conservation District)
- Chewuch Basin Council Habitat Conservation Plan (Okanogan County) – A $100,000 grant will help to develop a basin-wide HCP for the Chewuch River basin to support the survival and wild propagation of federally listed fish species. The HCP will guide management of river flows to ensure adequate water for threatened and endangered fish and to protect their habitat. The HCP is designed to benefit two federally listed endangered species (spring chinook and steelhead), one federally threatened species (bull trout), and one species of concern (west slope cutthroat) while continuing to meet irrigation needs within the basin. (Sponsor: Chewuch Basin Council)
- Technical Assistance for Habitat Conservation Plans in the Methow Watershed (Okanogan and Chelan counties) – This grant of $200,717 will help develop HCPs in the Wolf Creek Irrigation District, Skyline Irrigation District and potentially the Beaver Creek Irrigation District and Entiat Watershed Planning Unit. These HCPs would be directed at avoiding and minimizing take of two federally listed endangered species (spring chinook and steelhead), and one federally listed threatened species (bull trout). The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife's goal is to provide technical assistance to develop strategies for meeting irrigation and habitat needs in partnership with private, state, federal and two tribal entities. (Sponsor: WDFW)
- Wolf Creek Reclamation District Habitat Conservation Plan (Okanogan County) – A $198,750 grant will allow for the completion of an HCP and implementation of a management strategy aimed at protecting and restoring native runs of steelhead, spring chinook and bull trout. The HCP will guide management of water diversions for crop irrigation in order to ensure that adequate instream flows exist to benefit fish, while also providing for a reliable irrigation supply. (Sponsor: Wolf Creek Reclamation District)
- NW Chinook Recovery Habitat Conservation Plan (Snohomish County) – A $100,000 grant will provide funding to develop an HCP covering two threatened species, chinook salmon and bull trout, for agricultural lands along Washington's lower Skykomish River. The HCP would encompass approximately 12,000 acres and is being designed to serve as a model/pilot program for acquiring or otherwise securing rights to lands that can benefit species. By using both conservation easements and purchase of development rights, the local community gains open space and improved habitat for both threatened species and other viable native fish and wildlife populations. (Sponsor: Northwest Chinook Recovery)