The latest round of state grants for the removal of fish passage barriers includes more than $1.6 million for projects in Lewis County, with nearly $870,000 of that designated for projects on Scammon Creek.
The funding was announced by the Brian Abbott Fish Barrier Removal Board for grants awarded between 2019 and 2021. Some grants were designated for the design of projects, others for actual construction and some for both.
On Scammon Creek, the funding will allow for the replacement of two culverts on Graf Road, at a cost of more than $560,000 — which will open up nearly 11 miles of habitat. Another nearby project will fund the redesign of another fish-blocking culvert on the creek. And a third project near the creek’s confluence with the Chehalis River will replace a culvert blocking 4 miles of habitat.
Most of the projects on the list were sponsored by Lewis County, often with some matching funds, and several were awarded to the Lewis Conservation District as well.
Other projects include the design of a fish passable structure on a tributary of the Middle Fork Newaukum River, removal of a barrier to that river itself on Centralia-Alpha Road, as well as a pair of projects on King Creek for a fish-passable structure and a bridge on a private driveway.
Washington State is facing increasing pressure over culverts that often constrict the flow of waterways and make it difficult for salmon and other fish to pass through, choking off habitat. Replacement options can be expensive, and local governments like Lewis County rarely have the funding to conduct projects on their own.
The state has been ordered by the courts to replace hundreds of culverts restricting habitat on waterways that make up fishing grounds within Native tribal treaty rights. It’s yet to be seen if similar legal action could be taken against counties or cities.