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Eight Puget Sound Watershed Projects are Finalists for $4.5 Million in EPA West Coast Estuaries Initiative Funding

Release Date: 03/26/2008
Contact Information: Michael Rylko, 206-553-4014,; Mark MacIntyre, 206-553-7302,

(March 26, 2008 – Seattle, Wash.) Puget Sound watershed protection efforts will get a $4.5 million boost, thanks to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s West Coast Estuaries Initiative. Eight cooperative watershed protection projects, encompassing broad coalitions of local and Tribal efforts, have been selected as finalists in the first round of focused funding under EPA’s West Coast Estuaries Initiative.

The eight finalists were named today by Elin Miller, EPA Regional Administrator, at the South Sound Science Symposium in Tacoma. According to EPA’s Miller, the Initiative grants will assist local and tribal governments in Puget Sound to protect and restore watersheds that are facing significant population growth and development pressures.

“The Puget Sound needs our help,” said EPA’s Miller. “And we can start at the watershed level by adopting smarter land use patterns and better management practices to protect water quality. These eight grants will also influence and advance natural resource protection throughout the Puget Sound Partnership's action areas.”

Grants of up to $625,000 will fund watershed protection projects* led by Skagit, Whatcom, King, Thurston, and Clallam counties and the Squaxin Island Tribe. Proposed projects include: connecting watershed information to land use decisions; applying education programs and land stewardship incentives; evaluating the effectiveness of current zoning and regulations; acquiring land for habitat protection; protecting shellfish areas; and studying the sources and impacts of nitrogen pollution in sensitive marine areas. (*see: attached project summaries.)

WEI Background

The West Coast Estuaries Initiative (WEI) grant program is unique in targeting projects that connect watershed management and land use decision making to support the protection and restoration of high value Puget Sound aquatic resources. This is especially important in areas facing rapid population growth, increased development or other environmental pressures. Projects proposed included watershed scale planning and analysis and site specific techniques such as Low Impact Development and Smart Growth. All of the projects include strong collaboration with multiple stakeholders and project partners.

In all, EPA received nearly two dozen applications for the WEI program. WEI grants emphasize local, holistic watershed protection and management approaches. Grant funds will assist local and tribal governments in managing land uses while protecting watershed functions and values. Only local governments, special purpose districts, and federally recognized Indian tribes in the greater Puget Sound Basin were eligible to apply.

State agencies, institutions of higher learning, and non-governmental entities were ineligible to directly receive the grant awards; however, EPA encouraged tribes and local governments to solicit their participation as local partners.

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For more information about EPA's Puget Sound work, go to:

Fact Sheet

EPA West Coast Estuaries Initiative – Puget Sound Grant Finalists:

Community Engagement for Effective Stewardship of Oakland Bay
(Squaxin Island Tribe)($625,000)
Description: Squaxin Island Tribe and their partners will use innovative social marketing to re-tool an incentive program to increase environmental stewardship and LID on private lands; develop a near shore mitigation bank; and implement land trust conservation activities to protect habitat. All this will be done in an effort to improve watershed health measured by an upgrade of harvest status to "approved" throughout the bay.
Partners: Capitol Land Trust, Washington Department Of Ecology, Washington Department of Health, Mason Conservation District D, Mason County Public Health, Simpson Timber, Taylor Shellfish, Washington State University.
CONTACT: John Konovsky 360-432-3804

Collaborative Storm Water Management for the Sequim/Dungeness Watershed(Clallam County)($538,048)
Description: Clallam County and their partners will implement an innovative bottom-up regulatory development approach to develop a Comprehensive Storm Water Management Plan and adopt Clearing and Grading and Storm Water Ordinances. They will assess storm water impacts by monitoring of chemical, nutrient, and bacterial pollutants; updates GIS database layers; and provide peer and public outreach as building blocks for the bottom-up approach.
Partners: Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe, North Olympic Peninsula Lead Entity, Dungeness River Management Team, Built Green of Clallam County, The League of Women Voters of Clallam County, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, Clallam Conservation District.
CONTACT: Carol Creasey 360-417-2423

Landscape Watershed Characterization of Four Watersheds using GIS (Thurston County)($624,675)
Description: Thurston County will complete watershed characterizations across the county watersheds to assess current functioning of drainage systems. The characterization will result in a prioritized list of sites for restoration and prioritization, storm water retrofitting and LID (including clustering and storm water BMPs). The results will provide a baseline to minimize the cumulative impacts of land use and outputs will be integrated into the County's Storm Water Plans, SMP, CAO and mitigation strategies.
Partner: City of Tumwater
CONTACT: Barb Wood (360)754-3355 x-6809

Birch Bay Watershed Action Plan: A Proposal for Implementing the Birch Bay Watershed Characterization and Watershed Planning Pilot Study (Whatcom County)( $443,769)
Description: Whatcom County will implement the recommendations of the Birch Bay Multi-Agency pilot study through design and implementation of a watershed-focused planning model for land use decision-making. This will be accomplished through constructing a preferred scenario for future development and identifying "workable" solutions (such as zoning or sub area amendments, development regulations, or inter local agreements with stakeholders) that recognize the unique issues of a sub basin prior to permit review stage. Outcomes will protect property rights and values while sustaining and restoring aquatic resources and watershed processes threatened by growth and development.
Partner: Washington Department of Ecology
CONTACT: Peter Gill (360) 676-6907

Skagit Alternative Futures Project (Skagit County) ($625,000)
Description: Skagit County will apply the "alternative futures" process to conflicts between ecosystem restoration, farmland preservation and growth management. The results of the process include changes to zoning, development regulations, surface water management and funding priorities for habitat restoration and farmland preservation in light of growth pressures and potential effects of climate change.
Partners: University of Washington PRISM program, WDFW, Skagitonians to Preserve Farmland
CONTACT: Gary Rowe (360) 336-9300

Highly Focused Stewardships Assistance in the Snoqualmie: A Model for Rural Watersheds(King County) ($580,301)
Description: Using a paired watershed approach, King Co will work with local land owners in the Patterson Creek and Raging River sub basins to target stewardship tools and incentives such as Public Benefit Rating System, Forest Stewardship and Farm Management Planning, Rural Stewardship Planning, dedicated restoration and BMP implementation funding, and direct acquisition of property to create contiguous reaches of protected and restored habitat by preventing land use conversion and maintaining forest cover and farming. Results will be compared to similar, non targeted watersheds.
Partners: Partnership for Rural King County, King Conservation District, Snoqualmie Watershed Forum
CONTACT: Logan Harris (206)263-6550 or Doug Williams (206)296-8304

Regulatory Effectiveness Monitoring for Developing Rural Areas
(King County) ($624,732)
Description: King County will study the effectiveness of current land use regulations at protecting aquatic environments in developing rural areas by tracking regulatory implementation and corresponding changes in land cover, hydrology, water quality, channel complexity, and biology in 6 transitioning rural watershed and three reference watersheds. Results will shape recommendations on regulatory implementation and compliance and watershed response in an effort to inform King Co 2012 GMA review of land use regulations.
Partners: UW Urban Ecology Research Lab, USGS, WA Dept. of Veterans Affairs Veteran's Conservation Corp.
CONTACT: Logan Harris (206)263-6550 or Doug Williams (206)296-8304

Quartermaster Harbor Nitrogen Management Study(King County) ($625,000)
Description: King County will evaluate the role of nitrogen in the lethal, low-level oxygen events in Quartermaster Harbor; identify and quantify sources; and model the effectiveness and costs of nitrogen management strategies and watershed BMPs. Information will be used to develop new nitrogen management policies for Vashon Island to recommend for incorporation into the 2012 King Co. Comprehensive Plan update.
Partners: DOE, Vashon Maury Island Groundwater Protection Committee, USGS, UW Applied Physics Lab and UW Tacoma.
CONTACT: Logan Harris (206)263-6550 or Doug Williams (206)296-8304