$60 million added to Chehalis Basin Strategy budget

$60 million has been approved to continue the Chehalis Basin Strategy, impacting lands along the river.

In a release, the Department of Ecology announced that the $60 million in state and federal funding will continue the work already started to “reduce damage from catastrophic floods and restore critical aquatic habitat” in the Chehalis River basin.

The funds will be overseen by the Office of Chehalis Basin and Department of Ecology to work on solutions through 2019 to restore salmon runs along the basin as well as prepare for future flooding.

“The timing for the legislative funding could not be better,” said Chrissy Bailey, senior project manager for the Office of the Chehalis Basin. “Last year, we completed an environmental assessment evaluating potential combinations of actions to reduce flood damage and restore aquatic habitat in the basin. This additional funding will ensure we can get to work and continue making progress.”

Approximately half the funding, $30.4 million, will be used to advance the long term strategy of the project, including environmental reviews for different flood-damage reduction and habitat restoration projects, collecting data, evaluating the engineering design and feasibility of potential future construction projects, and engaging tribal governments, state agencies and other parties.

The other half, $29.6 million, will be spent on the design and construction of priority flood protection and habitat restoration projects.

“The people of the Chehalis River basin need this critical state investment to continue. They also need to know how this funding will be put toward the highest, best possible uses,” said Vickie Raines, a Grays Harbor County commissioner and chair of the Chehalis Basin Board that oversees the strategy. “We need to keep working together to find solutions that protect our communities and our environment. The two issues go hand in hand.”

This funding is in addition to $50 million added during the 2015-17 state budget.

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