The Washougal River system is going to receive millions of dollars to help restore the Columbia River watershed’s salmon and steelhead populations.
On Wednesday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that it will award $2.57 million to the Kwoneesum Dam removal on Wildboy Creek, located in Skamania County.
The Cowlitz Tribe and its partners, Columbia Land Trust and Parr Excellence, will use the federal funding to remove the tributary’s 55-foot-tall, 425-foot-long rock mound. In doing so, 6.5 miles of aquatic habitats will be recovered.
The Cowlitz Tribe has completed its final design for the project and secured permits to remove the dam. Designs show that more than a mile of the stream will be lined with log structures to aid in the restoration, as well as to capture sediment.
Federal funding used to remove the Kwoneesum Dam comes from a larger $39.8 million package divvied among 10 Washington communities attempting to boost fish populations by removing small dams and similar blockages.
Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., chair of the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, said in a statement Wednesday that the statewide developments will jump-start salmon populations while also removing obsolete infrastructure.
“These projects help recover salmon stocks important to Southern resident orcas, coastal ecosystems and our economy by supporting commercial, recreational, and Tribal fishing communities,” she wrote.
Investments such as these come from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, passed in 2021, in which Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Cantwell successfully lobbied for $2.85 billion to be directed to salmon and ecosystem recovery.
“Salmon are foundational to Washington state’s economy, culture, and traditions. Preserving and protecting fish populations and habitats matters for all of us,” Murray said. “I did everything I could to secure historic investments in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for Washington state fish passages and Tribal fisheries.”