Northwest watersheds and their finny denizens will get a boost from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law via a half-decade-long Forest Service-Trout Unlimited agreement announced today.
USFS will disburse up to $40 million to TU for projects on national forests and grasslands nationwide that will benefit and protect fish and streams and make them both more resilient and productive, not to mention help local economies.
“In Washington, this funding will support work we do to inventory and replace culverts that block fish passage, to restore critical habitat, to address problematic road-stream crossings that degrade water quality, to reconnect river floodplains, and to build natural firebreaks in the Yakima Basin, Olympic Peninsula, Puget Sound, Chehalis Basin, and the Methow watershed,” said Greg Fitz, TU’s West Coast communications director.
“Likewise, similar work is underway in Oregon’s upper Grande Ronde, Wallowa, John Day, Deschutes Basin, and upper Klamath basins. On the rivers of Oregon’s North Coast, we’re replacing culverts to reconnect key salmon and steelhead habitat,” he added.
The work will be part of the five-year National Watershed and Aquatic Restoration Initiative, a program that “aims to increase the pace and scale of watershed restoration on national forests and grasslands,” according to a press release from the US Department of Agriculture, the Forest Service’s parent agency.
It follows on previous projects in which TU leveraged $20 million from USFS to perform $62 million worth of forest and stream work that, by the way, also helped to build “key partnerships while supporting hundreds of family-wage jobs in rural communities,” USDA stated.
“It is heartening to see the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s resources being put to good use,” said Chris Wood, TU president and CEO, in the release. “This agreement builds on a long and productive partnership between the Forest Service and Trout Unlimited. Together over the years, we have already restored more than 400 miles of important fish habitat, reconnected more than 700 miles of habitat by removing barriers to fish migration, and improved hundreds of thousands of acres of National Forest System lands. We are excited to continue and expand on this work over the coming years.”