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Eight Puget Sound Watershed Projects Will Share $4.5 Million
SEATTLE, Washington, March 27, 2008 (ENS) - A project to develop a stormwater management plan for Washington state's Sequim/Dungeness Watershed in Clallam County has been selected as one of eight finalists for grant funding under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s West Coast Estuaries Initiative.

Eight cooperative watershed protection projects worth a total of $4.5 million have been selected as finalists in the first round of focused funding under the West Coast Estuaries Initiative.

Clallam County and its partners will receive $538,048 to implement an innovative bottom-up regulatory approach to develop a Comprehensive Storm Water Management Plan and adopt Clearing and Grading and Storm Water Ordinances for the Sequim/Dungeness Watershed.

The Dungeness River on Washington's Olympic Peninsula (Photo courtesy Sustainable Northwest)

The Dungeness River is one of the steepest rivers in North America. It originates up around 7,000 feet in theOlympic Mountains and descends 4,000 feet over its first four miles. Its lower 10 miles flow through the Sequim-Dungeness valley, a uniquely arid part of the water-rich Olympic Peninsula. A rain shadow cast by the mountains means that a scant 16 inches of rain falls annually where the river lets out into the Strait of San Juan de Fuca, close to the Canadian border.

The partners on this project will assess stormwater impacts by monitoring of chemical, nutrient, and bacterial pollutants; updates to GIS database layers. They will provide peer and public outreach as building blocks for the bottom-up approach.

Partners are the Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe, North Olympic Peninsula Lead Entity, Dungeness River Management Team, Built Green of Clallam County, The League of Women Voters of Clallam County, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, Clallam Conservation District.

Grants of up to $625,000 will fund watershed protection projects led by Skagit, Whatcom, King, Thurston, and Clallam counties and the Squaxin Island Tribe.

The eight grant recipients were named Wednesday by EPA Regional Administrator Elin Miller at the South Sound Science Symposium in Tacoma.

Miller said the grants will help local and tribal governments in Puget Sound to protect and restore watersheds that are facing population growth and development pressures.

"The Puget Sound needs our help," said Miller. "And we can start at the watershed level by adopting smarter land use patterns and better management practices to protect water quality."

"These eight grants will also influence and advance natural resource protection throughout the Puget Sound Partnership's action areas," she said.

Proposed projects include - connecting watershed information to land use decisions; applying education programs and land stewardship incentives; evaluating the effectiveness of current zoning and regulations; acquiring land for habitat protection; protecting shellfish areas; and studying the sources and impacts of nitrogen pollution in sensitive marine areas.

The West Coast Estuaries Initiative grant program is unique in targeting projects that connect watershed management and land use decision-making to support the protection and restoration of high value Puget Sound aquatic resources.

In all, the EPA received nearly two dozen applications for the grants. Only local governments, special purpose districts, and federally recognized Indian tribes in the greater Puget Sound Basin were eligible to apply.

State agencies, institutions of higher learning, and nongovernmental organizations were ineligible to directly receive the grant awards; however, EPA encouraged tribes and local governments to solicit their participation as local partners.

The seven other EPA West Coast Estuaries Initiative - Puget Sound Grant Finalists are:

  • Community Engagement for Effective Stewardship of Oakland Bay
    Squaxin Island Tribe and its partners will receive $625,000 to use innovative social marketing to re-tool an incentive program to increase environmental stewardship and Low Impact Development, LID, on private lands; develop a near shore mitigation bank; and implement land trust conservation activities to protect habitat. The effort is intended to improve watershed health measured by an upgrade of harvest status to "approved" throughout the bay.
    Partners: Capitol Land Trust, Washington Department Of Ecology, Washington Department of Health, Mason Conservation District D, Mason County Public Health, Simpson Timber, Taylor Shellfish, Washington State University.

  • Landscape Watershed Characterization of Four Watersheds using GIS
    Thurston County will receive $624,675 to complete watershed characterizations across the county watersheds to assess current functioning of drainage systems. The characterization will result in a prioritized list of sites for restoration and prioritization, stormwater retrofitting and LID, including clustering and stormwater Best Management Practices. The results will provide a baseline to minimize the cumulative impacts of land use and outputs will be integrated into the county's stormwater plans and mitigation strategies.
    Partner: City of Tumwater

  • Birch Bay Watershed Action Plan
    Whatcom County will receive $443,769 to implement the recommendations of the Birch Bay Multi-Agency pilot study through design and implementation of a watershed-focused planning model for land use decision-making. Outcomes will protect property rights and values while sustaining and restoring aquatic resources and watershed processes threatened by growth and development.
    Partner: Washington Department of Ecology

  • Skagit Alternative Futures Project
    Skagit County will receive $625,000 to apply the "alternative futures" process to conflicts between ecosystem restoration, farmland preservation and growth management. The results of the process include changes to zoning, development regulations, surface water management and funding priorities for habitat restoration and farmland preservation in light of growth pressures and potential effects of climate change.
    Partners: University of Washington PRISM program, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Skagitonians to Preserve Farmland

  • Highly Focused Stewardships Assistance in the Snoqualmie: A Model for Rural Watersheds
    King County will receive $580,301 to work with local land owners in the Patterson Creek and Raging River sub basins using a paired watershed approach. Stewardship tools and incentives will be employed to create contiguous reaches of protected and restored habitat by preventing land use conversion and maintaining forest cover and farming. Results will be compared to similar, non targeted watersheds.
    Partners: Partnership for Rural King County, King Conservation District, Snoqualmie Watershed Forum

  • Regulatory Effectiveness Monitoring for Developing Rural Areas
    King County will receive $624,732 to study the effectiveness of current land use regulations at protecting aquatic environments in developing rural areas. The project will track regulatory implementation and corresponding changes in land cover, hydrology, water quality, channel complexity, and biology in six transitioning rural watershed and three reference watersheds. Results will shape recommendations on regulatory implementation and compliance and watershed response to inform King County's review of land use regulations.
    Partners: University of Washington Urban Ecology Research Lab, U.S. Geological Survey, and the Washington Department of Veterans Affairs Veteran's Conservation Corp.

  • Quartermaster Harbor Nitrogen Management Study
    King County will receive $625,000 to evaluate the role of nitrogen in the lethal, low-level oxygen events in Quartermaster Harbor; identify and quantify sources; and model the effectiveness and costs of nitrogen management strategies and watershed BMPs. Information will be used to develop new nitrogen management policies for Vashon Island to recommend for incorporation into the 2012 King County Comprehensive Plan update.
    Partners: U.S. Department of Energy, Vashon Maury Island Groundwater Protection Committee, U.S. Geological Survey, University of Washington Applied Physics Lab and UW Tacoma.
  • Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2008. All rights reserved.

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