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Counties receive several grants to improve fish habitat

Cowlitz County has a $204,000 grant to remove this bridge on Abernathy Creek.

Several groups that work to improve habitat for endangered fish have been awarded more than $1 million for projects in Cowlitz County. Clark County projects on the Lewis River total $925,383 and money for work in Wahkiakum County totals $361,505.

The grants announced recently by the state Recreation and Conservation Office come from federal and state funds dedicated to fish recovery. The money for the grants comes from the federal Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund and from the sale of state bonds.

The level of fish funding for most parts of the state has decreased over the past few years. The statewide total of $30 million recently awarded compares to $32 million in 2010 and $42.8 million the year before, said Susan Zemek, communications manager for the RCO.

In addition, grants for fish habitat work in Puget Sound total $13.5 million this year, compared to $33 million a year ago.

Cowlitz County

• Reshaping Abernathy Creek, $486,305. The Cowlitz Indian Tribe will use this grant to remove an abandoned roadbed on the east side of the creek that inhibits full connectivity between the creek and its floodplain, and place logjams in the creek to increase habitat. The tribe will excavate channels through the former roadbed and place logjams in the main channel, allowing the river to meander. The work is on state land.

The tribe will contribute $85,819 in donations of cash, labor and materials.

• Removing an Abernathy Creek Bridge, $204,000. Cowlitz County will use this grant to remove a bridge on an abandoned portion of Abernathy Creek Road. The bridge is 6 1/2 miles up the creek, near Brentwood Road. The bridge constrains the channel and limits the creek’s ability to meander and connect with its floodplain. The county will install logs and tree root wads in the creek and replant its banks after the bridge is removed

Cowlitz County will contribute $36,000.

• Restoring Andrews Tree Farm waterways, $177,401. The Cowlitz Conservation District will use this grant to restore portions of the Coweeman River and a tributary, Turner Creek, on the Andrews Tree Farm. The district will install logs and whole trees in the streams to slow the river, encourage gravel accumulation and create places for salmon to rest and hide from predators. The district also will plant trees along stream banks to shade and cool the water.

The conservation district will contribute $40,000 from a state grant and donations of equipment, labor and materials.

• Restoring Nesbit Tree Farm stream, $89,100. The Cowlitz Conservation District will use this grant to restore a portion of the Coweeman River on the Nesbit Tree Farm, which is about 8 miles up Rose Valley Road. The conservation district will place logs and whole trees in the river to trap sediment on exposed bedrock to improve salmon habitat and cool the water.

The conservation district will contribute $20,000 from a state grant and donations of equipment, labor and materials.

• Restoring the Coweeman River, $124,000. The Conservation District will use this grant to place logs and whole trees in the Coweeman River on the Baxter and Andrews tree farms about 6 1/2 miles up Rose Valley Road to improve habitat for salmon. The logs and trees will slow the river, encourage gravel to accumulate and create places for salmon to rest and hide from predators.

The conservation district will contribute $24,500 from a state grant and donations of equipment, labor and materials.

Clark County

• East Fork of the Lewis River, $212,753. Clark County Public Works will use the money to grade the outlets of two side channels of the river, install logs and root wads that act as juvenile fish habitat, and remove invasive plants and replant with native species. The project will expand side channel habitat by 3,500 square feet. Clark County will contribute $61,891 to the project.

• North Fork of the Lewis River, $401,730. The Cowlitz Tribe will use the money to place logs and jams into two side channels of the river, remove invasive plants along the bank, and replant the area with native trees and shrubs. The tribe will contribute $91,400 from a local grant and donation of labor and materials.

• East Fork of the Lewis River at Daybreak Park, $143,900. Fish First will enhance two side channels of the river, install wood structures in the river for habitat, and replant streambanks with native trees and shrubs at the park. Fish First will contribute $26,100 in cash, labor and materials.

• Eagle Island-North Channel Restoration Project, $167,000. Lower Columbia Fish Enhancement Group will use the money to design a project to restore optimum water flows in the north channel of Eagle Island, which is located in the North Fork of the Lewis River near Woodland. Optimizing the water flow will improve 2.2 miles of high value fish spawning and rearing habitat below Lake Merwin. Pacificorp and the state departments of Natural Resources and Fish and Wildlife are partners.

Wahkiakum County

• Grays River, $226,180. The Lower Columbia Fish Enhancement Group will install wood structures on Columbia Land Trust property in the Grays River to reduce water velocity, create habitat diversity and collect sediments against the toe of eroding stream banks. The structures will create pools, collect flood debris and stabilize the river channel. Additional structures will be placed along more than a half-mile of shoreline to protect important chum salmon habitat in nearby Crazy Johnson Creek. The enhancement group also will remove non-native plants and replant the area with native trees and shrubs.

The enhancement group and Columbia Land Trust will contribute $76,300 in donations of equipment, labor and materials.

• Elochoman River, $135,325. The Wahkiakum Conservation District will use this grant to place logs and tree root wads in the Elochoman River, to slowing the river and creating places for salmon to rest and hide from predators. The logs and root wads also help stabilize the channel by reducing erosion and protecting young trees on the riverbanks. The work will improve salmon habitat along more than a half-mile of the river and create a streamside forest on 4.5 acres.

The conservation district will contribute $39,500 from federal and local grants and donations of equipment and labor.

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