BLYN (Aug. 5, 2004) – Nearly $1 million in federal funds has been awarded to the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe for projects aimed at improving water quality in the Dungeness Watershed.

The Environmental Protection Agency awarded the tribe $984,000 as part of the federal agency’s Targeted Watersheds Grant Program that encourages community-based approaches to protecting local watersheds. The tribe’s application – co-sponsored by Tribal Chair Ron Allen and Gov. Gary Locke – was one of only 14 throughout the nation to receive funding.

“This is a big boost,” said Shawn Hines, watershed planner for the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe. “This grant will help with several different projects aimed at identifying numerous pollution sources, improving water quality and increasing in-stream flows in the Dungeness River. We’re very excited to get these projects under way.”

The tribe will administer the grant and assist in many of the projects, including public outreach and studying the effectiveness of each project. The outreach effort will have help from the Dungeness River Audubon Center. Clallam County – co-leader with the tribe on the project – will play a key role in demonstrating best management practices related to septic system management, which will include training and a cost-share incentive program for homeowners. Battelle Marine Sciences Laboratory and Clallam Conservation District are also key project partners.

Other projects include irrigation system improvements; storm-water management demonstrations; a study to help distinguish between human and various animal sources of bacteria in the watershed; and a new technology using fungi to help clean the environment. The Battelle fungi project is called mycoremediation, and it takes advantage of the vegetative part of a fungus to break down contaminants. The plan is to introduce to the watershed native fungi that are conditioned to eliminate specific contaminants, improving water quality.

Floodplain development; failing septic systems; pollution from residential and agricultural storm-water runoff; and reduced in-stream flows have degraded the Dungeness River’s water quality. The problem has forced the closure of Indian and non-Indian shellfish harvests in Dungeness Bay and impacted fish populations, including chinook salmon, summer chum salmon and bull trout, which are all listed as “threatened” under the federal Endangered Species Act. The river also supports pink and coho salmon, along with steelhead.

The projects included in the grant are part of a Clean Water Strategy being developed by the tribe, the county and many other partners concerned about watershed conditions.

“These projects are just another step toward alleviating the Dungeness Watershed’s water quality problems,” Hines said. “Because there are numerous sources of pollution located throughout the watershed and the impacts are cumulative, it’s going to take some time. But the more partnerships we can build, and the more community involvement we have, the sooner we can fix the problems and restore the watershed’s natural resources.”

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For more information, contact: Shawn Hines, watershed planner for the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, (360) 681-4664, shines@jamestowntribe.org. Darren Friedel, information officer for the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, (360) 297-6546, dfriedel@nwifc.org.