On Tuesday, March 10, 2020, the King County Flood Control District committed to be a “better environmental partner” throughout the County by injecting an additional $6.7 million into its 2020 budget, which will go toward salmon recovery efforts and funding two flood projects that provide essential fish habitat restoration and enhanced flood risk reduction.

“This new funding package represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the Flood Control District to become a better environmental partner and ensure that all parts of the County benefit from its work,” said King County Flood Control District Chair Dave Upthegrove. “I am proud the District has taken advantage of this chance by approving this investment.”

To ensure the entire county benefits from the work of the District, three new grants were also established that will reduce flood risk while improving water quality, addressing the threats of coastal erosion arising from climate change, and enhancing fish passage through waterways.

The added funding brings the District’s investment in salmon recovery projects to $9.6 million annually, double its previous investment. Over 10 years this increase in funding to Watershed Resource Inventory Areas (WRIAs) will bring an additional $50 million to salmon recovery efforts to benefit threatened salmon and endangered orcas in the Puget Sound region.

“This is a major step forward for King County rivers, and it’s the kind of vision that could make the King County Flood Control District a national leader in innovative flood protection efforts,” said Wendy McDermott, Director of the Puget Sound and Columbia River Basins at American Rivers. “With river health at risk, salmon runs struggling and climate change adding new challenges, we must increase investments in salmon recovery and embrace multi-benefit flood protection solutions that restore habitat and protect water quality. We applaud Councilmember Upthegrove for committing to these worthy goals.”

The two flood projects that will see immediate benefit from the new funding include the Lones Levee, which will leverage $1.3 million to restore a dynamic, natural floodplain providing chinook and other salmon rearing, refuge and spawning habitat while protecting adjacent farmlands.

An additional $200,000 will be invested in the Shake Mill Revetment project, which will support development and installation of additional habitat and bank stabilization elements such as additional plantings and associated side channel restoration.

The District will make $12 million available for the three new grants beginning in 2021. In the next decade, that commitment is expected to provide more than $100 million to local tribes, cities and other partners to support the important work of protecting the public and improving the environment for future generations.

Scott Schaefer

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