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State grant program announces funding for remarkable restoration projects, totaling $10 million — here's where the money will go

One of the projects will support efforts in the North Fork Walla Walla River.

One of the projects will support efforts in the North Fork Walla Walla River.

Photo Credit: iStock

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife recently awarded $10 million to fund habitat restoration projects across the state through its Private Forest Accord Grant Program.

This funding is the first of its kind in Oregon, the Tillamook Headlight Herald reported, and the state prioritized projects that would benefit stream and wetland environments for fish and wildlife. 

For instance, one project will support efforts in the North Fork Walla Walla River to improve fish habitat while another aims to improve fish passage on Upper Sutton Creek in Tillamook County. 

In Portland, grantees will create spawning and rearing habitat for coho salmon on 900 feet of Johnson Creek downstream from the Leach Botanical Garden. Yet another project in Clackamas County will restore 1.2 miles of instream habitat in the upper Molalla Watershed, which will improve conditions for fish, semi-aquatic and terrestrial animals.

Aside from protecting species like steelhead, Chinook salmon, and Oregon Coast coho, safeguarding streams benefits people in a variety of ways. That's because healthy streams help provide us with clean drinking water and offer recreational opportunities like fishing and swimming, among other benefits

Unfortunately, our streams and other waterways face a number of threats. For instance, one water company received a hefty fine after allowing raw sewage to flow into Shawford Lake Stream in Hampshire, England, in 2019. Thousands of fish died as a result.

Trash like plastic bottles and bags also litter our waterways, degrading their natural beauty and contributing to the microplastics plague. These items also threaten aquatic wildlife that may become entangled in or ingest it. This garbage can travel many miles, eventually making its way to the ocean. According to Clean Water Action, plastic debris in the ocean has impacted at least 267 species, including 86% of sea turtle species, 44% of all seabird species, and 43% of all marine mammal species.

Luckily, some good samaritans are doing their part to help keep their local streams clean. For instance, one man has collected more than eight million pieces of trash from highways, parks, and streams. You can do your part by making sure you properly dispose of your garbage, recycling when possible. 

Back in Oregon, Sarah Reif, ODFW habitat division administrator, called the $10 million investment a "critical step forward in conserving our state's fish and wildlife resources," per the Tillamook Headlight Herald. "By supporting these diverse conservation projects, we ensure a healthy environment for these species and for generations to come."

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