One million dollars in federal funding has been awarded to a Washington state agency and a local tribe to acquire more land on the Stillaguamish Delta for restoration that will benefit fish and wildlife, part of $3.5 million just disbursed for coastal work throughout Puget Sound.
The state Department of Ecology and Stillaguamish Tribe will use the money from the National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program for the phase-two purchase of 537 acres south of Stanwood, near a 248-acre parcel bought last year through the same avenue.
The site is described as “former coastal wetlands” that was diked for farming in the late 1800s.
“The current project will benefit a wide range of fish and wildlife species, including Endangered Species Act-listed Chinook salmon populations of the Stillaguamish and Skagit Rivers, while linking together conserved lands to the north and south. This project will also allow conservation of lands that will benefit waterfowl and shorebirds that use the Pacific Flyway. The tidal wetland restoration carried out in this project is specifically called for in the Puget Sound Chinook Recovery Plan,” reads a statement from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which manages the program.
Stillaguamish River Chinook are a perpetually constraining stock for setting Puget Sound fisheries due to their low returns, a function of largescale habitat modifications, limited hatchery production and pinniped predation.
The grant was matched with $420,000 in cost-share funding.
USFWS also awarded $687,750 to the Department of Ecology and Nisqually Land Trust for a conservation easement on 132 acres along Puget Sound’s Nisqually Reach; $1 million to Ecology and the city of Bellingham to restore nearly 5 acres in the Little Squalicum Creek estuary; and $875,000 to DOE and the Skagit Land Trust to purchase and protect 51 acres along Padilla and Samish Bays.
Overall, the coastal conservation grant program disbursed $27-plus million for 33 projects in Washington and 12 other coastal states, with the states, tribes, landowners and others pitching in $22.2 million in funding.
The projects are expected to benefit fish, wildlife and shorelines, reduce the risk of flooding, local communities and residents.
“The projects funded by the National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program will strengthen partnerships with numerous public, non-profit and private stakeholders while directly conserving and restoring thousands of acres of vital coastal habitat and inland wetlands,” said USFWS Principal Deputy Director Martha Williams in a press release. “These grants will help ensure that coastal resources that are put at risk by pollution, development and the uncertainties of a changing climate are conserved.”