The Milton-Freewater region, and also most of Oregon, has benefited from the federal funding investment of the Pacific Coastal Salmon recovery funds that have come to Oregon to restore salmon and steelhead populations in our rivers.
Locally, in the Milton-Freewater area, the Walla Walla Basin Watershed Council has competed for and received PCSRF dollars offered by the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board through a competitive grants program.
The watershed council matches these PCSRF funds with property owner cost share dollars, Bonneville Power Administration funds, other state grants and private foundation funds to improve water quality, water availability, fish passage and fish habitat.
The Walla Walla Basin Watershed Council is a nonprofit in the Milton-Freewater area that has been working with the local community for the last 22 years to implement locally acceptable watershed restoration projects. Competitive grants pay for designing and constructing projects that put Oregonians to work.
As much as possible, the Walla Walla basin council and other watershed councils and soil and water conservation districts in the region use local contracting companies and locally sourced materials such as fencing, irrigation pipe, quarry rock, and trees to build projects.
We appreciate our Oregon congressional delegation’s work (U.S. Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden and U.S. Rep. Greg Walden) in past years to secure these funds for Oregon. Locally, the Walla Walla Basin Watershed Council has used these dollars to implement river habitat restoration, fish passage, irrigation efficiency, managed aquifer recharge projects, and surface water and groundwater monitoring work in Northeast Umatilla County.
The Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Funds received and used across Oregon have typically been $10-15 million a year. Hopefully this successful program that benefits Oregon will continue.
John Zerba, chair
Walla Walla Basin watershed council