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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

June 30, 2009 at 4:29 PM

Washington to benefit from marine and coastal restoration fund signed by Commerce Secretary Gary Locke

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke has earmarked funds to 50 habitat restoration projects along coastal and Great Lake states, including six in Washington that will repair damaged wetlands, clean marine habitat, clear debris in Puget Sound and restore fish passages blocked by dams.

The funding comes Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and the Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration was provided $167 million for marine and coastal habitat restoration.

“These Recovery Act projects will put Americans to work while restoring our coasts and combating climate change,” Locke said in a news release. “They reflect our investment in sound science and commitment to help strengthen local economies.”

The release pointed out that these areas of recovery generate more than 28 million jobs in the country. Commercial and recreational fishing employs 1.5 million people and contributes $111 billion to the nation’s economy.

A big number of these projects [in 22 states and two territories] are in places with some of the highest unemployment rates, including California, Oregon and Michigan.

The projects will employ people such as laborers, nursery workers, design engineers, restoration ecologists, landscape architects, hydrologists and specialized botanists.

Many other indirect jobs will also benefit from these projects.

Nationwide this work is expected to restore more than 8,900 acres of habitat and removed obsolete and unsafe dams that open more than 700 stream miles where fish migrate and spawn.

The projects will also remove more than 850 metric tons of debris, rebuild oyster and other shellfish habitat and reduce threats to 11,750 acres of coral reefs.

The 50 projects were chosen from a pool of 814 proposals totaling more than $3 billion in requests.

The agency worked through a rigorous selection process to identify and prioritize projects meeting the Recovery Act’s criteria.

Areas in Washington that will benefit from the funding include:

Elwha River Floodplain Restoration near Port Angeles: $2 million – In conjunction with the Elwha Dam removal, this project restores 82 acres of the floodplain of the lower Elwha River through the removal of dikes and culverts, re-vegetation and invasive species control.

Removal of Derelict Fishing Gear in Puget Sound: $4.5 million -Removes over 200 metric tons of marine debris, including over 3,000 net removals, and restore 600 acres of habitat.

Smuggler’s Slough Nooksack River Restoration in Bellingham: $1.7 million – Raises a roadway and reconnects tidal exchange for 493 acres of Smuggler’s Slough channel that will flow to restored salt marsh and eelgrass habitat in Lummi Bay. Seven miles of slough habitat will also be opened as a result of this project.

Qwuloolt Estuary Restoration in Marysville: $2 million – Restores 350 acres of wetland and 16 stream miles to fish passage for several species of salmon on the lower Snohomish River and its surrounding tidal floodplain by removing levees, excavating channels and planting native vegetation and trees.

Fisher Slough Marsh Restoration in Burlington: $5.2 million – Restores 60 acres of the Skagit River floodplain by replacing antiquated agriculture floodgates and restoring 15 miles of high quality habitat for chum, coho, threatened chinook salmon and other important species.

Hansen Creek Floodplain Restoration in Milltown: $988,000 – Excavates and reconnects 140 acres of forested floodplain habitat and install woody debris for chum, coho, threatened chinook salmon, and other important species.

For more details, go to the NOAA Recovery Web site.

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