As Washington’s population continues to boom, keeping our waterways clean and healthy becomes increasingly more challenging. More people, consistent development, and many other environmental factors create more pollution and toxic runoff. That’s why November’s focus is on the Riparian Protection category of WWRP, which is vital to providing clean water. Conserving land along our waterways protects important habitat and helps keep our rivers healthy, clean, and more resilient to drought. Riparian Protection projects conserve and restore fresh and saltwater habitat while protecting fish habitat. In doing so, the grants help provide our families, farms, and fisheries with clean water across the state.
Our highlighted project this month is the Kennedy Creek NRCA-Riparian 2016 in Mason County. The project sponsor, the Department of Natural Resources, plans to use this grant to buy about 830 acres in a proposed Natural Resources Conservation Area along Kennedy Creek that connects to the Kennedy Creek Natural Area Preserve.
The purchase would increase protection for one of the few remaining high-quality salt marsh communities in Puget Sound, including vital habitat for migrating shorebirds. The site also provides recreation and environmental education opportunities for one of the fastest growing counties in southern Puget Sound.
The acquisition area is known for its robust fall run of Chum Salmon, which has an average of 20,000 fish returning annually to spawn in Kennedy Creek. The project area also provides habitat for Coastal Cutthroat Trout, steelhead, and Coho Salmon.