On Sept. 16, 2009, the State of Washington signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Action Agencies. The agreement provided an additional $40.5 million over 10 years for habitat restoration actions in the Columbia River estuary. The new MOA uses BPA funding to leverage additional federal funding through a Corps cost-sharing program for estuary habitat. The added funds will boost estuary habitat funding to unprecedented levels, providing extra assurance that actions to address fish survival will occur.
The estuary, which provides food and shelter from predators as smolts mature, is a critical nursery for young salmon and steelhead. As smolts, they all travel through the estuary on their way to the ocean. One to four years later, adult fish enter the estuary on their way back to their spawning grounds. Historic changes in the estuary, such as diking and draining of tidal wetlands, cut off the fish from this important habitat.
Improvements under the MOA include acquiring, protecting and restoring estuary habitat; restoring tidal wetlands and reopening flood plains; removing invasive plants and weeds, and restoring native vegetation. The improvements will benefit other fish and wildlife, including smelt, Pacific lamprey, sturgeon, eagles and other raptor and waterfowl.
The new MOA will work in concert with implementation of the 2008 FCRPS BiOp, and also supports the Northwest Power and Conservation Council’s Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Program.
Link to Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife website
The Columbia River estuary is important habitat for young salmon and steelhead on their way to the ocean. The State of Washington is restoring estuary habitat under its agreement with the action agencies.