Projects to help fish: Salmon recovery efforts highlighted in Yakima Basin

The Spokesman-Review –

Cowiche Creek is a good place to start when it comes to salmon and steelhead success stories in the Yakima Basin.

Fish once eliminated from the small tributary have returned. Obstacles to passage have been removed, and riparian vegetation provides a faster-flowing, cooler path upstream.

While it’s hardly fixed every problem or brought back historic populations, Yakima Basin Fish and Wildlife Recovery Board Executive Director Alex Conley said it’s an example of positive steps in the region.

“What we saw in Cowiche Creek is a lot like what we’ve seen on probably 10 different creeks through the basin,” Conley said. “You could tell a similar story – different in the details, but a similar story for Manastash Creek, for Taneum Creek, for Swauk Creek.”

Conley led a tour of project sites last Thursday funded in part by the state’s Salmon Recovery Funding Board, which was meeting in Yakima this week. The board grants $18 million annually to projects across the state. He estimated about $1.2 million to $1.5 million of that money goes to the Yakima region, where several partners work toward common goals outlined in the Yakima Basin integrated water management plan.

The North Yakima Conservation District’s Justin Bader kicked things off at what’s called the Cowiche Siphon, at the intersection of the Naches-Cowiche Canal and Cowiche Creek near Powerhouse Road.

Read more