Earlier this year, we were excited to learn that the Washington State Legislature approved supplemental funding for projects with total budgets over $5 million each. We worked closely with our colleagues at the Recreation and Conservation Office to implement a $4.794 million grant round in the Middle Columbia Salmon Recovery Region.

We received  three proposals for large salmon restoration projects. Gap to Gap Ecosystem Restoration Construction, submitted by Yakima County, is a large-scale floodplain restoration project along the mainstem of the Yakima River next to the City of Yakima. During the 2022 grant round, our local review committees recommended it for funding. It also received funding from the SRFB’s Targeted Investment program for its benefits for Chinook, a Southern Resident orca prey stock. This funding will allow it to rapidly complete three phases of this project

This made funding available for a second large project. Kittitas County submitted the Yakima River Corridor Plan Implementation Phase II proposal to acquire the 39-acre Yakima River RV Park, which is the final piece of a reach-scale acquisition and restoration project in the Ringer Restoration Area, a critical priority for salmon restoration in the Yakima Basin. We are really excited about this project and are eagerly awaiting its outcome. Our committee also retained the Toppenish Creek at Pom Pom Road Floodplain Reconnection proposal as an alternate. This project would restore the floodplain where Pom Pom Road crosses the middle portion of Toppenish Creek, near the town of White Swan on the Yakama Reservation.

The large supplemental projects grant round concluded on December 7 when the SRFB approved our ranked list of large projects. While this unprecedented increase in funding made for a busy year, we are delighted to see the acceleration of important restoration work in reaches critical to viability of the region’s salmon, steelhead, and trout. We would like to thank our sponsors and committee members for their flexibility and hard work as we navigated this new program. We also appreciate the support of our colleagues on the SRFB and at RCO over the course of this new process and the members of the state legislature for making this possible.

-Michael Horner, Yakima Basin Lead Entity.