Efforts to clean up Puget Sound got a big boost from the federal Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday with the announcement of nearly $30 million in grants.
The grant money, which comes from the EPA’s national estuary program, will help pay for 36 Puget Sound restoration and protection projects, from Bellingham to Olympia.
“This is truly where the rubber meets the road,” said Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Belfair, who helped announce the awards at a ceremony in the Suquamish Tribe’s longhouse in Kitsap County. “Appropriations in Congress end up here, where the work on the ground is accomplished.”
Two of the EPA grants are going to projects in Pierce County.
The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department will get $751,211 to help keep septic systems on the Key Peninsula from polluting shellfish habitat.
The Puyallup Tribe of Indians is getting $554,362 to help reduce the flow of sediment and pollutants into Clarks Creek, which is used for spawning and rearing by six stocks of salmon. Clarks Creek and its tributaries drain into the Puyallup River.
Thurston County is getting $885,641 to help the cities of Lacey, Olympia, Tumwater, Rainier and Yelm design land-use plans based on watersheds rather than political boundaries.
The Nisqually Indian Tribe is getting $600,000 for research in the Nisqually Delta.
The Squaxin Island Tribe is getting two grants worth a total of nearly $2 million. The tribe will use the money to protect and enhance habitat in Woodard Bay, Goldsborough Basin and the Shelton harbor.
The largest grant – $2 million, with $3 million more promised over the next three years – will go to the Puget Sound Partnership for public outreach, education and stewardship efforts. Dicks’ son David Dicks is the partnership’s executive director.
The partnership will use the money to establish a Puget Sound Outreach and Stewardship Coalition, made up of more than 300 agencies and organizations across the 12-county Puget Sound region.
Martha Kongsgaard, vice chairwoman of the Partnership’s Leadership Council, spoke at Tuesday’s announcement ceremony. She said the partnership will pass the money along to local groups.
The intent, Kongsgaard said, is to create a coordinated approach to increasing public awareness of problems facing the Sound.
“We have to make people realize that when we say, ‘Puget Sound starts here,’ that means you and that means me,” Kongsgaard said. “Our individual actions are what’s causing the problems.”
Rob Carson: 253-597-8693 firstname.lastname@example.org