EPA awards five Pacific Northwest tribes nearly $500k for water quality and habitat restoration
Seattle, WA – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded five Northwest tribes a total of $498,601, boosting programs that restore habitat and protect tribal water quality across three Northwest states. Grant funds have been awarded to the Colville, Nez Perce, Nooksack, Quinault, and Umatilla tribes, through EPA’s Clean Water Act Nonpoint Source program.
“These funds deliver more ‘horsepower’ to tribal environmental programs’” said Chris Hladick, EPA’s Northwest Regional Administrator in Seattle. “Projects delivered under this Clean Water Act program reduce sediment from forest roads; control invasive species; improve stream channel stability and upgrade salmon habitat. Best of all, they are creative solutions to tough problems for tribes, by tribes.”
Here are specific project profiles from this round of funding:
Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation
(Contact: Douglas Marconi, 509-634-2417)Project Title: Stream crossing and road improvements in Little Jim Creek Watershed. ($100,000)The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation (CTCR) will implement nonpoint source water pollution best management practices to improve water quality in the Little Jim Creek watershed with two new stream crossing and critical road improvements. The project work will improve water quality by reducing sediment from roads to streams and will improve in-stream channel hydraulics on this tributary to the Columbia River, complementing other restoration efforts by CTCR in the watershed.
Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation
(Contact: Rick Christian, 541-429-7283) Project Title: Meacham Creek Floodplain and Riparian Restoration Project. ($98,604) Meacham Creek was constrained years ago by the construction of an adjacent railway that included extensive levees (to force the stream away from the tracks), channel relocation, channelization, vegetation alteration, and harvesting of wood for fuel to power trains. Primary use of the EPA funds will be to excavate the side channel and main channels to reconnect the main channel to the floodplain, as well as providing erosion control best management practices through levee removal and channel reconnection/creation.
Nez Perce Tribe
(Contact: Ken Clark, 208-843-7368) Project Title: Water quality improvement project in the headwaters of the Lower Lapwai Creek watershed. ($100,000) The Lapwai Creek watershed is part of the lower Clearwater River drainage. The watershed is approximately 175,000 acres and is located in both Nez Perce and Lewis counties. This project will: 1) Create approximately 14-acres of new riparian habitat along a heavily degraded stream reach. 2) Construct beaver dam analogues throughout the project area to promote reconnection of floodplain surfaces and increase habitat heterogeneity and quality. 3) Replace one dilapidated culvert. 4) Collect data to determine the effectiveness of implemented best management practices (BMPs). 5) Present and disseminate program information at local gatherings and venues with the goals of highlighting tribal programs, educating local community members, and promoting collaboration.
Nooksack Indian Tribe
(Contact: Oliver Grah, 360-592-5140 Ext. 3139) Project Title: Riparian Restoration along Black Slough Tributary to South Fork Nooksack River to Address Water Temperature and Salmon Habitat Impairments. ($99,997)Both the North/Middle Fork and South Fork Nooksack River early chinook populations are considered essential for Puget Sound Chinook salmon recovery, but current abundances of Nooksack natural-origin spawners are critically low. While hatchery programs are in place to ensure persistence of both populations, recovery will require substantial improvement in habitat conditions. The South Fork Nooksack River (SFNR) watershed is the highest salmon habitat restoration priority to recover the South Fork Nooksack early Chinook population. This project will address high temperatures and low river flows that substantially limit the South Fork Nooksack early Chinook population. Specifically, the Nooksack Tribe will: 1) Refine riparian protection and restoration actions. 2) Restore 10 acres of riparian buffer along Tinling Creek, a tributary to Black Slough and the SFNR. 3) Restore 30 acres of riparian wetland associated with Tinling Creek and Black Slough. 4) Monitor and maintain treated areas for two years. 5) Conduct water quality monitoring above, within, and below the treated areas. 6) Analyze data and prepare reports that discuss the effectiveness of protection and restoration actions.
Quinault Indian Nation
(Contact: Greg Eide, 360-276-8215)Project Title: Invasive plant species removal and native replanting in riparian areas to improve water quality in the Lower Quinault River. ($100,000)Invasive knotweed upsets native ecosystem functions that native salmonid species depend on by excluding native vegetation, influencing sediment transport, and impacting the food web by reducing the abundance and diversity of insects. Native trees and shrubs that would usually grow tall and provide shade and habitat structure are prevented from growing in areas infested with knotweed. Thousands of acres of knotweed infestations occur in the Queets-Clearwater rivers, Quinault River, Moclips River and Raft River basins. With this funding, the Quinault Indian Nation will: 1) revisit and spot-treat remnant knotweed infestations along 2 river miles of the Lower Quinault river. 2) Conduct initial treatment of invasive knotweed along an additional 2 river miles on the lower Quinault River, 3) Establish native plant communities on river miles where patches treated over the past few years have left open ground, and 4) Finalize and implement the Stewardship Plan for the Quinault Indian Reservation.
Congress enacted Section 319 of the Clean Water Act in 1987, establishing a national program to control nonpoint sources of water pollution. Through Section 319, the EPA provides states, territories, and tribes with guidance and grant funding to implement their nonpoint source programs and to support local watershed projects to improve water quality. Collectively this work has restored over 6,000 miles of streams and over 164,000 acres of lakes since 2006. Hundreds of additional projects are underway across the country.
For more about EPA’s Tribal 319 program: https://www.epa.gov/nps/tribal-319-grant-program