Canyon Creek project for flood, salmon protection gets $2M state grant

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDApril 7, 2014 

A $2 million state grant is paying for flood protection and salmon habitat improvement on Canyon Creek.

The Whatcom County Council, acting as the Flood Control Zone District board of supervisors, will decide Tuesday, April 8, whether to accept the Department of Ecology's $2,023,420 grant. Rejection of the funds appears unlikely.

The money covers some of the costs of a rock wall built last year on the edge of the creek channel, and log jams that will improve conditions for salmon.

The rock wall replaces a levee in the middle of the streambed that would have worsened damage to the nearby Glacier Springs subdivision had it failed. The new wall is designed to protect the small vacation community from a 100-year flood.

Crews installed 14 of the 23 log jams last year. The rest will go in this year, using the state money, said Paula Cooper, county river and flood manager.

The twin benefits of flood and salmon protection were attractive to the state because Canyon Creek is home to chinook salmon, which is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Also, summer cabins were destroyed in the Canyon Creek floods of 1989 and 1990.

The total cost of the multi-year project was $3.8 million, with almost $1.5 million coming from the state Recreation and Conservation Office, which supports salmon restoration. The cost to the county was $354,000.

Council will discuss the grant at a committee meeting at 11 a.m. Tuesday. The final vote is scheduled for the 7 p.m. meeting of the full council. Meetings are at the County Courthouse, 311 Grand Ave.

Reach Ralph Schwartz at 360-715-2289 or ralph.schwartz@bellinghamherald.com. Read his Politics blog at bellinghamherald.com/politics-blog or get updates on Twitter at @bhampolitics.

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