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