by David Lester
December 8, 2012
Meandering through the bottom land northwest of Yakima, Cowiche Creek is the next small piece in the Yakima River Basin salmon recovery puzzle.
An estimated 25 miles of prime fish habitat will be opened to migratory fish in the creek’s upper reaches by the spring of 2014, culminating an effort that has taken a decade.
The project took a major step forward this week when a state board that provide grants for fish habitat improvements awarded nearly $575,000 to remove small irrigation diversions in the creek and provide additional flows for migratory fish, including Steelhead, listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Matching funds from federal agencies pushes the project cost to more than $900,000.
“We are proud as a conservation district to move this project forward because it doesn’t impair agriculture,” said Mike Tobin, manager of the North Yakima Conservation District and sponsor of the project. “It keeps agriculture whole and, at the same time, provides tremendous instream flow benefits for fish. That is what the system needs to maximize its potential to produce salmonids.”