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San Juan Islands awarded $341,000 for salmon restoration work

Three groups will share a total of $341,412 to further the cause of salmon restoration work in San Juan County.

The local grants are part of more than $19.8 million in salmon restoration grants awarded to organizations in 28 of the state's 39 counties in 2008.

Divvied up by the Salmon Recovery Funding Board, the grants ranged from $10,000 to nearly $900,000 and will fund a multitude of restoration projects — including planting trees along streams to cool water for salmon, replacing culverts that prevent salmon from migrating to spawning habitat, and restoring flood plains.

Locally, this year's round of salmon grants will fund four restoration projects. A year ago, eight public agencies and local non-profits shared $1.8 million in state salmon restoration grants.

The following grants were awarded in San Juan County.

— Wild Fish Conservancy (formerly known as Washington Trout): $150,462 to restore San Juan Island's Garrison Creek Watershed. The conservancy will provide restoration options for farmers and landowners to address drainage problems, high stream temperatures and intermittent summer flows. Improvements are expected to benefit cutthroat trout, coho, chum and chinook salmon.

— Friends of the San Juans: $82,000 to survey from the water and inventory shoreline modifications along the county's 400-plus miles of shoreline. The project will identify stresses on near-shore habitats, which juvenile salmon need to survive, and prioritize shoreline modifications for restoration. Friends will contribute $14,500 in labor, equipment and donations.

— Friends of the San Juans: $65,600 to work with landowners to restore eelgrass damaged by mooring buoys. An estimated 8,000 mooring buoys are in place in San Juan County, and a significant number are anchored in eelgrass, a vital habitat for juvenile salmon. Friends of the San Juans, which will contribute $11,750 in cash and labor, will offer education and incentives to replace improperly designed buoys.

— Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group: $43,350 to obtain permits and prepare for dredging and removal of wood waste left on the beach and inter-tidal areas at Thatcher Bay on Blakely Island. The bay was home to a lumber mill in the early-to-mid 1900s and wood waste left behind threatens aquatic life in the bay, including surf smelt, a food source for salmon.

Skagit Fisheries, which will contribute $7,600 in labor, completed a sediment analysis and a plan for removing wood waste with funding from a previous salmon restoration grant.

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