Auburn receives $300K grant to move levee, restore floodplain
December 16, 2009 · Updated 5:31 PM
The City of Auburn will receive $304,103 in grant funds from the state Salmon Recovery Funding Board to set back the Fenster levee in east Auburn and restore habitat in the Green River and its floodplain.
The project will complete six years of work by Auburn and King County to set back or completely remove all levees within a two-mile stretch of high quality habitat.
Combined with work previously done, the final project reconnects the floodplain to the river, providing off-channel habitat for large numbers of juvenile salmon and steelhead.
After construction of the Fenster levee setback, Green River Community College's Veteran's Conservation Corps will work with the City to replant and monitor the site. Taken together, these projects also increase storage of floodwaters, reducing the risk of flooding downstream.
Auburn will contribute cash and $53,665 from a grant.
King County's River and Floodplain Management Section and the City of Auburn are working together on the Fenster Levee Setback Project, Sarah McCarthy, the department's senior ecologist for the Green and White rivers, told the Auburn Reporter last spring.
"The levee used to be right along the river's edge. We removed that levee last summer and excavated a couple hundred feet. By doing this, we are allowing the river to move into its floodplain, so we are giving it more room to move around during a flood. It also provides habitat for fish as they are coming through the river," McCarthy said.
The first phase of setback work started in 2003.
The SRFB awarded the funds as part of $2.6 million aimed at nine projects to protect and restore salmon habitat in King County.
As a member of the King County Council, recently elected King County Executive Dow Constantine co-chaired one of the three watershed committees that developed and prioritized the grant applications.
Money awarded to other projects includes as follows:
• More than $1.5 million to the Green/Duwamish and Central Puget Sound Watershed in South King County.
• More than $866,000 for four projects in the Lake Washington/Cedar/Sammamish Watershed
• More than $224,000 for two projects in the Snoqualmie/South Fork Skykomish Watershed in eastKing County. The three watersheds stretch from the Cascade crest west to the shoreline of Puget Sound, and are home to Chinook salmon, steelhead trout, and bull trout, which are all listed as "threatened" under the federal Endangered Species Act.
Sockeye and Coho salmon and cutthroat trout also depend on the freshwater and saltwater habitats in these watersheds. Restoring the health of all of the watersheds is a key part of the Puget Sound Partnership Action Agenda program to protect and restore Puget Sound. The cities, King County, and federal grants will kick in funds to match the state money.
The SRFB evaluated local projects in a rigorous process intended to identify the most effective and scientifically-sound projects. Local watershed groups reviewed and prioritized projects before sending funding requests to the state.
Statewide, more than $42.8 million was awarded for habitat acquisition, restoration and assessment projects. The funds came from both state and federal sources.