Office of Rep. Marilyn Strickland announcement.
Today (August 18, 2023), U.S. Representatives Marilyn Strickland (WA-10) and Derek Kilmer (WA-06), Co-Chairs of the Puget Sound Recovery Caucus, announced that the Puyallup Tribe of Indians and the Port of Tacoma will receive grants from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to improve fish passage in the South Sound.
“The anadromous fish are an integral part of the South Sound ecosystem,” said Rep Strickland. “I’m proud to deliver today’s funding to invest in the Puyallup Tribes’ and the Port of Tacoma’s efforts to improve habitats for fish tributaries and make them more accessible to boost the economy of the entire region while investing in long-term sustainability.”
“Through these awards, the federal government is moving to restore fish passages and provide critical access to upstream habitat in the South Sound. That’s critically important if we’re going to recover the salmon populations that are so vital to our region’s economy, culture, and way of life,” said Rep. Kilmer. “This effort is a big deal as we work to protect clean water and recover salmon populations in our region.”
“This project represents our commitment to environmental leadership at the Port of Tacoma as we look to improve habitat for salmon. It will also bring operational benefits for moving cargo at Pierce County Terminal, managed by The Northwest Seaport Alliance. The culvert replacement in Wapato Creek is within the most complicated 300-foot corridor in the area around the Port, and we are grateful to Rep. Kilmer for securing this important funding,” said Port of Tacoma Commission President Deanna Keller.
The Puyallup Tribe of Indians will receive $7,478,240 to remove four fish passage barriers – all of which are culverts – in the Puyallup River to improve instream habitats for fish tributaries. The Port of Tacoma will receive $2,000,000 to rehabilitate the failing Wapato Creek culvert. Both projects would improve river access for anadromous fish, which are species of fish that live in the ocean but relocate to freshwater to spawn.
The Puyallup Tribes’ project will remove four barriers located on Clear Creek or tributaries of that stream that intersect with the Puyallup River. All are associated with existing culverts under the BNSF Railway. Tributary barriers are located on Swan, Squally, and Canyon creeks. The Fall Chinook Salmon, Coho Salmon, Chum Salmon, Steelhead Trout, Bull Trout, and other resident trout populations are expected to benefit from the removal of the barriers.
The Port of Tacoma’s project will rehabilitate the failing Wapato Creek culvert that limits aquatic connectivity and threatens Port operations. Currently, fish passage through the culvert is possible only during high tides, restricting anadromous salmonids’ access to upstream habitats. The improved culvert is expected to improve fish accessibility to the habitats where they spawn.
Strickland continues to make environmental protection and restoration a priority. In January 2023, Strickland announced funding for the University of Washington Tacoma’s Center for Urban Waters to help further research into salmon population decline. In July 2022, she sent a letter to the Puget Sound Regional Council Executive Board calling on them to use federal infrastructure funds to fight 6PPD-quinone’s affect on Coho Salmon populations. In June 2021,the House passed the PUGET SOS Act of 2021 co-led by Reps. Strickland and Kilmer to enhance the federal government’s role and investment in Puget Sound. This came shortly after Strickland and Kilmer secured a historic funding increase for Puget Sound restoration from the House Appropriations Subcommittee. Strickland and Kilmer also co-chair the Puget Sound Recovery Caucus.