Senator Murray Announces Over $8.7 Million for Five Projects Across WA to Restore Fish Habitats and Boost Ecosystem Health

ICYMI yesterdaySenator Murray Celebrates Second Anniversary of Historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law That Has Sent Nearly $8 Billion to Washington State So Far

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, cheered the Bureau of Reclamation’s announcement of $8.7 million in federal funding for five WATERSmart Environmental Water Resources Projects in Washington state. The collaborative projects focus on water conservation, water management, and restoration efforts that will result in significant benefits to ecosystem or watershed health. Through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Bureau of Reclamation—an agency under the U.S. Department of the Interior—is investing a total of $8.3 billion across the country over five years for water infrastructure projects, including water storage, conservation and conveyance, nature-based solutions, dam safety, water purification and reuse, and desalination.

“This announcement is great news for the Yakama Nation and Chelan and Kittitas Counties as they work to restore critical fish habitats, conserve water, improve watershed health, and help surrounding ecosystems,” said Senator Murray. “Saving our salmon is a top priority for me, and restoring the ecosystems our fish populations rely on is absolutely fundamental to the health of our environment, and our economy and communities. These projects are yet another example of the far-reaching improvements the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is making possible all across Washington state.”

The Bureau of Reclamation announced funding for the following five projects in Washington state:

  • $2,248,677 for the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation, Lower Yakima River: Anadromous Fish SurvivalThe Yakama Nation, in partnership with the Benton County Conservation District, will improve conditions for anadromous fish species in the Prosser, Snively, and Confluence reaches of the lower Yakima River, in central Washington. The project will address two key elements of the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan, fish passage and habitat protection and enhancement. The Yakama Nation will complete instream restoration work to expand a cold-water refuge within the Yakima River mainstem at the confluence of Amon Creek, including construction of 1,400 linear feet of cool water channel habitat and restoration of 20 acres of riparian zone through invasive vegetation removal and revegetation with native species. The Yakama Nation will also complete electrofishing and install a fish trap on the Wanawish Dam to remove and prevent reintroduction of invasive predatory fish species that impede the migration of endangered fish species. These improvements will benefit the federally-threatened Middle Columbia River steelhead; spring and fall/summer run Chinook, Coho, and Sockeye salmon; and the Yakima population of Pacific lamprey..  
  • $600,000 for the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation, Yakima River Mile 89.5 Side Channel and Floodplain Restoration: The Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation will reconnect approximately nine miles of side channel along the Yakima River within the Yakama Reservation, in south central Washington. Upstream flow regulations tied to Reclamation’s Yakima Project have constricted historical floodplain processes and cut-off side channel access for native fish species, leading to degradation of riparian and wetland habitat areas. The Yakama Nation will excavate five historic side channel sections connecting to the mainstem of the Yakima River, install two constructed logjam inlet structures to ensure fish access to the mainstem of the river, and install three stream ford crossings to access the project site. The excavation of side channels will increase winter and spring off-channel habitat utilized by Middle Columbia River Steelhead and restore hydrologic connectivity to a total of 135 acres of floodplain and wetland habitat. The project is supported by the Yakima Basin Integrated 10-Year Action Plan developed by water and land management stakeholders.  
  • $468,903 for the County of Chelan, Camas Meadows Streamflow and Ecosystem Restoration ProjectThe Chelan County Natural Resource Department, in coordination with the Washington Department of Natural Resources, will restore wet meadow hydrology in Camas Meadows, a unique meadow ecosystem within the steep canyon drainages of north-central Cascade Mountains in Washington. The 1,300-acre meadow flows into Camas Creek, a tributary of Peshastin Creek, in the Wenatchee Watershed. Due to widespread floodplain disconnection and irrigation withdrawals, the Peshastin sub-basin is among the top three flow-limited sub-basins in the Wenatchee Watershed, with chronic low flows and high stream temperatures limiting recovery of ESA-listed steelhead and spring Chinook that reside throughout Peshastin Creek and in the lower reaches of Camas creek. Historic land use practices have resulted in Camas Meadows being confined into ditch-like channels with incision ranging from four feet to eight feet, causing rapid and early drying of the meadow. This project will restore floodplain connectivity and the natural hydrology of the meadow by replacing the meadow outlet culvert, re-grading the channel and meadow elevations, installing channel-spanning habitat log structures, and re-planting with native shrubs and plants.
  • $2,475,000 for the Kittitas Conservation Trust, Gold Creek Restoration Phase 2 RM 2-3 Implementation: Kittitas Conservation Trust will implement an in-stream restoration project on river mile 2-3 of Gold Creek, in Kittitas County, Washington. Located just east of Snoqualmie Pass in Kittitas County, Washington, Gold Creek is the headwaters of the upper Yakima River and flows for approximately eight miles from the Alpine Lakes Wilderness into Keechelus Reservoir in the Central Cascade Mountains. Upstream fish passage is blocked at Reclamation’s Keechelus Dam on the downstream end of the reservoir. Prolonged dewatering conditions and a century’s worth of anthropogenic channel widening have dramatically impacted the habitat and health of the creek’s Federally threatened Bull Trout. The Trust will install a total of 28 large woody debris structures along the river mile. The instream wood replenishment will create habitat complexity, including deeper pools with shaded cover, provide relief from high-velocity flood flows, and ensure optimal habitat for both the successful rearing of juvenile Bull Trout and migration of mature fish. The project also will provide floodplain reconnection, which will improve groundwater recharge from flood flows, and reduce the likelihood of future flood events further harming the channel morphology.  
  • $3,000,000 for the Kittitas Reclamation District, Kittitas Reclamation District – South Branch PipingThe Kittitas Reclamation District, located in central Washington, will restore in-stream flows and provide benefits to fish and wildlife in Mantash Creek, an over-appropriated tributary of the Yakima River. The project will involve the piping of a 2,656 linear feet section of the currently unlined South Branch Canal, which is part of Reclamation’s Yakima Project. Once piped, the district anticipates conserving approximately 385 acre-feet per year currently lost to seepage. The district will designate this otherwise lost water through an allocation, management, and protection agreement, that involves careful monitoring of stream flow on Mantash Creek to maintain optimal conditions for Yakima Basin fish species, including Coho and Chinook Salmon, Mid-Columbia Steelhead, and Bull Trout. The Washington State Department of Ecology is responsible for water protection and enforcement and will ensure that conserved water stays instream.