By Ernest A. Jasmin, Puyallup Tribal News
Tribal Fisheries has received a $7.4 million grant to make fish passage improvements on the Puyallup Tribe’s reservation.
The award comes from the Department of Transportation’s National Culvert Removal, Replacement and Restoration program which has allotted $58 million for 23 projects that are aimed at opening up salmon migration routes, according to a press release issued by the office of Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), who championed the program.
“We’re really excited about this award,” Fisheries Program Director Russ Ladley said, explaining that it would allow the Tribe to improve fish passages on major creeks located on the reservation.
“The tribe has been actively working on fish restoration in this watershed,” Ladley said, acknowledging partnerships with the state, county and Port of Tacoma. “So, this is just one more piece of the restoration puzzle that’s being put back together to improve habitat quality, natural function and provide an overall improvement to the fisheries environment.”
Funding will allow the Tribe to replace undersized and outdated culverts on Swan, Squally, Clear, Canyon and Clarks creeks. Fisheries research indicates these improvements will improve the movement of several local fish species, including threatened Chinook and steelhead salmon and bull trout.
“Some of the culverts that are going to be replaced are over 100 years old,” Ladley said. “So, they don’t meet today’s scientific criteria for fish passage (and) we’re going to replace them with actual bridges. It opens up the stream channel tremendously.”
The National Culvert Removal project will improve a total of 46 fish passage barriers across the state. Nationally, DOT has awarded $196 million through this first round of grand program funding. Visit www.transportation.gov to learn more about the program.