Archive for February, 2013


Ellensburg Daily Record: Variety of projects in water plan bill

By Mike Johnston

February 27, 2013

A $45 million funding request to the state Legislature would make more water available to the Yakima River basin and improve fish runs, wildlife habitat, the environment and recreation at the same time, according to supporters who spoke in favor of the funding proposal in Olympia last week.

The bill would kick off work on a list of important projects that are part of the estimated $5 billion, 20-year Yakima River Basin Water Enhancement Program’s Integrated Water Resource Management Plan.

About $10.5 million of the $45 million is earmarked for a down payment for state government to buy 46,000 acres of Teanaway River basin lands northeast of Cle Elum.

The remainder is for necessary work to get on-the-ground water projects shovel ready, said Urban Eberhart, a member of the water plan’s implementation committee. (See list of projects on Page A8).

“Having this state funding support upfront is absolutely critical for a number of important reasons,” said Eberhart, a Kittitas Valley farmer, tree-fruit grower and Kittitas Reclamation District board member.

Continue reading the story.


Yakima Herald-Republic: Saving Manastash Creek

By David Lester

February 25, 2013

ELLENSBURG, Wash. — Twelve years ago this month, Manastash Creek became the epicenter of conflict over the future of fish runs in the Yakima River Basin.

An environmental group, the Washington Environmental Council, had issued a notice of intent to sue irrigators under the Endangered Species Act, contending that barriers erected to allow for irrigation harmed threatened fish by preventing them from reaching 25 miles of prime spawning and rearing habitat in the creek’s headwaters, west of here.

After some early, tense negotiations, the council, local irrigators, tribal, state and federal agencies decided that same year to work together to solve the two key goals — restoring historic fish runs and sustaining irrigated agriculture that began in Manastash Creek in 1871, just a few short years after the Civil War.

It took the groups six years, but they reached an important agreement in 2007 on how to restore the creek while assuring farmers they would have the water they need.

“I don’t know if anyone would have predicted 10 years ago this is where we would be,” said Anna Lael, manager of the Kittitas Conservation District, one of the organizations partnering in the project to restore the creek. “It has been an interesting process to watch and be part of.”

Continue reading the story.


OPB: Inslee Appoints New Director Of Washington Department Of Ecology

By Ashley Ahearn

February 11, 2013

SEATTLE — Gov. Jay Inslee’s pick to direct the Washington Department of Ecology is an Olympia insider with appeal on both sides of the aisle.

Maia Bellon has worked at the Department of Ecology since 2010, where she was director of water resources. That meant she was in charge of handling water rights – an often contentious area for the Department.

Water is a contentious issue in Honeyford’s home district and he’s no fan of the Department of Ecology, “But Maia has really impressed me,” he says. “She’s willing to look for solutions to problems and working outside the traditional way of doing things so I think she’ll be very good and successful in that job.”

Bellon’s ability to connect with people on both sides of the political aisle was no doubt a big selling point for her nomination to direct the Department of Ecology.

But her solid background in water law and management didn’t hurt either.

Governor Inslee’s first legislative move in office was to throw his support behind what’s called the Yakima Basin Integrated Water Resource Management Plan. It’s one of the largest ecosystem restoration projects in the West and will require balancing agricultural interests with those of environmental groups, tribes and communities.

Continue reading the story.

Fish. Families. Farms.
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