Federal government announces $30 million for dam removal and other projects to help salmon in WA

Federal government announces $30 million for dam removal and other projects to help salmon in WA

Projects to help fish navigate Washington’s rivers could get a boost of more than $30 million from the federal government.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Wednesday announced $105 million for 36 new fish passage projects across the United States, including funds for culvert and dam removal projects, and studies to mitigate barriers to fish passage in the Olympic Peninsula, Puget Sound region, Yakima Basin and Columbia River watershed.

The projects have been recommended for funding, but the money has not yet been authorized, according to a NOAA spokesperson. The agency will give final approval.

Projects that could benefit include the removal of the Kwoneesum Dam by the Cowlitz Tribe and partners, planning for the removal of the Enloe Dam on the Similkameen River, and the Tulalip Tribes’ plans to remove 16 fish passage barriers in the basin. the Snohomish River.

The projects have the potential to open up hundreds of kilometers of habitat for endangered steelhead, chinook, coho and chum salmon.

“Investments in bipartisan infrastructure law to support fish passage and sustainable commercial, recreational and tribal fishing are critical to building a climate-ready nation,” said NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad, in a press release. “The projects supported by this funding will help communities adapt to climate change by supporting healthy ecosystems and infrastructure that works for people and fish.

An approximately 50-foot-tall embankment dam sits on Wildboy Creek, a tributary of the West Fork Washougal River in the Columbia River watershed.

The Camp Fire Girls, now Camp Fire, built the dam in the 1960s to create a recreational lake and camp, disconnecting approximately 6.5 miles of habitat for Lower Columbian rainbow and coho salmon listed by the Endangered Species Act.

The $2.6 million prize announced Wednesday could help the Cowlitz Tribe unlock the creek for fish.

According to the office of U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell, the tribe has completed the final design and obtained permits for the removal of the dam, and has completed habitat restoration planning.

In Okanogan County, near the Canadian border, the century-old Enloe Dam that once generated hydroelectricity has stood lifeless on the Similkameen River since the late 1950s.

Chief Keith Crow of the Lower Similkameen Indian Band has been involved in conversations about the destruction of the dam since becoming chief in 2013.

“That’s been the goal for some time,” he said.

The Colville and Similkameen tribal governments passed resolutions in favor of restoring the river to its natural state by removing the dam.

There is a collection of archival photos at the museum in the nearby town of Oroville. Crow said he hopes to see the river one day return to its natural state, seen only in today’s photographs.

Since these photos were taken, a dam has been built to supply the mining camps. In the 1920s it was rebuilt as a concrete dam. The dam only produced about 3 megawatts, depending on the flow of the river.

When cheaper power became available in 1958, the Okanogan Utility District decided the dam was no longer economical and stopped production.

Now, the mining past is hampering efforts to demolish the dam. In 1972, researchers found an estimated 2.4 million tons of backed-up sediment in the reservoir, some of which may be contaminated from decades of upstream mining.

Trout Unlimited was selected to receive more than $2 million to study and plan the dam removal while coordinating with the Colville Reservation Confederate Tribes, Similkameen Indian Band, and Okanagan Nation alliance.

“It’s almost like there’s been this pent-up desire to remove some of these dams to help bring the fish back,” said NOAA deputy fisheries administrator Janet Coit. “We are able to achieve with this funding. Of course, everything we do helps create healthy habitats for other creatures as well.

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