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: