Habitat Improvement

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Mar 05

Strategic Acquisitions for Salmon Recovery

Posted on March 5, 2019 at 8:26 AM by Allan Warren

SPC Acquisitions
The District has received grants from the WA State Salmon Recovery Funding Board to purchase two properties along South Prairie Creek, including the one shown here. Protecting critical stretches of stream through acquisition is just one action of many the District and its partners in salmon recovery are taking to improve wild salmon runs in Pierce County.

Across Washington State, 18 distinct runs of salmon, steelhead, and bull trout are listed as endangered or threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). Efforts to recover Pacific salmon to self-sustaining populations is a complicated endeavor, to say the least. Since the late 1990’s, the Pierce Conservation District has contributed to salmon recovery via fish passage improvement, riparian habitat enhancement, and reducing stormwater run-off on both rural and urban landscapes. Working with landowners to implement these practices is fundamental to the work of the District, but sometimes the chance to acquire strategic stretches of stream is an opportunity too good to pass up.

In the mid-2000’s, the District received funding from the WA State Salmon Recovery Funding Board (SRFB) and other partners to purchase two properties along South Prairie Creek, one of the most important salmon streams in the Puyallup River watershed. Protecting these properties from development, and making them available for salmon recovery projects, has resulted in the work that is currently underway at the former Inglin Dairy to recreate a half-mile of new side channel, reconnect South Prairie Creek to its floodplain, and improve spawning habitat.

In the 2018 SRFB funding round, the District received grants to acquire two additional properties, also on South Prairie Creek. Negotiations with the current landowners are underway, and if successful, these new acquisitions will contribute over 40 acres and almost a half-mile of in-stream habitat to salmon recovery efforts in Pierce County. It’s a long-term, uphill battle to recover our ESA listed species of salmon, as well as our ESA listed Orca whales that rely on them for food, but every acre we can preserve and restore get’s us a little bit closer to those goals.