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Ecology announces $5.5 million to purchase 5,500 acres of Stewart Mountain forest land

WHATCOM COUNTY, Wash. — The Washington Department of Ecology (DOE) is expected to distribute about $35 million in Streamflow Restoration Competitive Grants for 26 high-priority projects in 22 watersheds, including $5.5 million to a project in Whatcom County. The funding supports projects to increase water storage capacity, improve fish habitat, acquire water rights and improve water management and infrastructure.

According to a DOE announcement on Wednesday, October 5th, Whatcom County Public Works will be receiving $5,517,000 to be applied to the Stewart Mountain Community Forest.

The Stewart Mountain Community Forest is a collaborative effort to adopt 5,500 acres of forestland into local ownership to be managed as a working forest that enhances community values and watershed resilience to climate change. The primary goals of the project are to increase streamflows, improve water quality, and advance salmon recovery in the South Fork Nooksack River by taking an active approach to forest stewardship and implementing improved forest management practices across the property.

Ecology received 57 competitive applications from across the state. This is the third round of grants as part of a 15-year program created by the Washington Legislature to invest in improving streamflows and protecting habitat.. In 2020, Ecology awarded $22 million for 21 projects in 16 watersheds. In 2019, Ecology awarded $20 million in 16 projects in 11 watersheds. Washington Department of Ecology news release (October 5, 2022)

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