SRF's up for local salmon projects

Kitsap County salmon habitat restoration projects received a big boost from the state Salmon Recovery Funding (SRF) board on Friday, April 12.

Five local projects will receive more than $3 million from the SRF board. The money will help improve two estuaries, fix two fish passages and purchase creekside property. Local funding sources must cover at least 15 percent of each project’s cost.

A culvert removal project on the south fork of Steele Creek earned the biggest share, $830,872. The culvert near the intersection of Gluds Pond Road and Brownsville Highway will be removed, removing a barrier for cutthroat and coho salmon.

It was good news for Steele Creek supporter Ed Wurden, who has transported spawning salmon upstream in the fall and smolts in the spring for seven years.

“If we close the road at the Glud’s Pond end, we would have an open river which will meander through like it used to 60 years ago,” Wurden said.

The state Department of Transportation has proposed closing the road this summer to cut back on accidents on State Route 303.

The Port of Brownsville has agreed to spend $50,000 on Steele Creek improvements.

Another local port plans on using its funds to kick off a bigger project.

The Port of Bremerton received $318,307 to start work on restoring the Gorst Creek estuary. The work is expected to improve habitat for spawning salmon and juvenile salmonid on their way to salt water.

“What we’re proposing to do is recapture two acres of estuary by removing 25,000 yards of material,” port Chief Executive Officer Ken Attebery said. “This will convert the area back to wetland and estuary habitat.”

The SRF board funds will be used to remove 15,000 yards of materials in July 2003.

Port Commissioner Bill Mahan said he was proud the port received the money on its first try.

“It’s always fun when you succeed at these things,” Mahan said. “You have to give all the credit to the staff and the consultants for making this happen. This gets the project off to a roaring start.”

Port officials, who put aside $50,000 in this year’s budget in anticipation of receiving the grant, hope to turn the Gorst shoreline into a park setting. A boardwalk and interpretive signs about the area’s wildlife are planned for the area.

“It could really lead to some good, positive things for Gorst,” Mahan said. “We’re hoping we can parlay this into a big improvement for the area.”

Attebery and Mahan said the port was pursuing further grants to continue the project.

Other local work to receive a boost from SRF funds include a corridor acquisition project on Barker Creek ($761,000), watershed fish passage restoration at Minter Creek in South Kitsap ($665,882) and estuary restoration at Dogfish Creek near Poulsbo ($450,439).

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