OLYMPIA – The Thurston County Board of Commissioners has approved five projects that will remove fish blockages in local streams. Removing these blockages will provide salmon access to an additional seven-and-a-half miles of streams that have been blocked for decades. This work will help address the need to protect salmon species federally-listed as threatened. By streamlining the permitting process with state and local resource agencies, Thurston County Public Works can construct these projects during 2018 with a budget of $4 million.
2018 fish passage projects
Thurston County is one of the first counties in Washington to take such a proactive approach to addressing this important issue and has been a model for other agencies in developing their own programs. Using a comprehensive prioritization process to maximize improving fish habitat, Public Works staff selected the following five projects to remove fish passage barriers: installation of a pre-fabricated bridges at Hunter Point Road, Troy Drive SE, and Flumerfelt Road SE; and upgraded stream crossings with fish passable structures at 26th Avenue NE, and Waddell Creek Road SW at Pants Creek.
“There are many fish passage projects we would like to accomplish, but we have to be strategic in our approach with the funds allocated each year,” says Scott Lindblom, County Engineer for Thurston County. “We met with resource agencies and members of the Squaxin, Chehalis, and Nisqually Tribes to gather their input on the proposed projects. Their feedback has been extremely valuable to us in selecting which projects to pursue in 2018. These projects continue to be a high priority with the County Commissioners.”
The projects will be funded from a portion of the Real Estate Excise Tax (REET).
Construction on the projects are expected to begin in late June or early July and completed by November.
Thurston County maintains nearly 3,000 culverts to prevent roadway and inland flooding. Most are not connected streams or rivers, however the culverts that do connect to waterways may hinder fish passage. The exact number of County owned fish barrier culverts is not known; but is estimated to be around 336 based on existing culvert data and information from the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife.