Working together leads to a BIG WIN for Puget Sound!
By Noelle van der Straaten, TNC Volunteer Content Specialist Photography by Andy Porter Photography
Salmon, shellfish, farms and water quality are top priorities in a new Farm Bill conservation program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. TNC was instrumental in securing funding via this program - the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). This program works to provide conservation assistance to producers and landowners in promoting the restoration and sustainable use of critical watersheds and landscapes.
The Conservancy will serve on the steering committee and the Puget Sound Natural Resource Alliance will be the advisory committee. This collaborative alliance represents a diverse group of leaders and stakeholders - tribes, farmers, conservation groups, private sector interests and academic institutions - all working together to strengthen the long-term viability of our natural resources and local economies.
Funding has been approved for a 5 year project with a budget of $18 million ($9MM from NRCS and $9M in matching funds from state and other private sources), that will be used for a wide variety of local working-lands conservation programs including: farmland protection, voluntary incentives for habitat restoration on farms, upgrades in water quality infrastructure and on farm practices for improving water quality. Implementation of these practices and innovative strategies will deliver tangible lasting results, benefiting farms and forests as well as local economies and communities. This is a big win for the Puget Sound region and will strengthen the viability of agriculture and advance shellfish and salmon recovery goals!
Infusing local efforts
Some local projects that will greatly benefit from this funding include:
Thomas Creek, a sub-basin of the Samish Watershed, is part of a project that is working to upgrade 4,000 acres of shellfish beds that have been closed due to contamination by fecal coliform from upstream land uses. This project will focus on working with landowners in implementing best practices to reduce water contamination and support the local economy by reducing closures of Samish Bay shellfish beds.
The Skykomish River project is working with agricultural producers to enhance salmon habitat by managing nutrients and planting trees along the banks of the Woods Creek watershed. This area contains streams and rivers that are impaired with dissolved oxygen and temperature issues. This project will work to enhance habitat and water quality suitable for salmon.
Moving forward together
This funding really kickstarts an emerging relationship between farmers, tribes, and conservation interests. It enables local communities to rally around priority projects that have long been on the books and need an infusion of funds to make progress. Working together, we can get so much more done.
The goal of this funding is for this collaborative alliance to work together in community-led projects and to develop and implement stewardship practices that will help ensure a future of abundant salmon and shellfish and more resilient farms in the Puget Sound region!
J14 Samish, F (est. 1974). Samish belongs to the J2 family group. Her living offspring are Hy'Shqa (J-37), Suttles (J-40), and Se-Yi’-Chn (J-45). She is the grandmother to Hy'Shqa’s calf, J-49. Photo by: The Whale Museum
The Southern Residents are in dire need of our help; with J-14 Samish missing and the life of J-28 Polaris and her calf J-54 hanging by a thread, these whales need our help immediately or we may lose them.
Samish J14 is estimated to have been born in 1974. Samish is 101 year old Granny J2’s grand daughter. Samish has three living offspring named Hy'Shqa J37, Suttles J40, and Se-Yi’-Chn J45. In 2012, Samish lost her oldest offspring, a son named Riptide J30. He was only 17 years old. Samish became a grandmother for the first time in the summer of 2012 when Hy'Shqa gave birth to her first calf, a male called J49. He will get a name if he survives his first year of of life.
In front is J14 “Samish” with J2 “Granny” just behind her (Granny is the oldest orca in the southern resident community, estimated to be born in 1911 … thats 100 years old!!). The first big male is J30 “Riptide” and just behind him is his little sister, J40 “Suttles”. Riptide and Suttles are both the offspring of Samish. The far group is J22 “Oreo” with her son J34 “Doublestuf”.