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NACo
County Solutions and Innovation Blog​​
December 03
Protecting Healthy Fisheries

Restoring Coastal Habitats for Resilient Coastal Economies Web Series – Part 2

Written by Jen Horton, NACo Program Manager.
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The “Restoring Coastal Habitats for Resilient Coastal Economies” web series provides coastal county leaders and coastal managers with an overview of how environmental restoration initiatives can help strengthen the ongoing vitality of coastal economies. The four-part series will highlight examples from counties that are pursuing coastal restoration projects to: 

  • Promote storm and flood resiliency
  • Protect healthy fisheries
  • Support coastal tourism, and
  • Create and retain coastal jobs.

Each blog post will provide case studies, resources and funding opportunities that relate to each topic area.

Today’s post explores how environmental restoration efforts can protect healthy fisheries

In many coastal counties, fisheries play an important role in the local economy, with both commercial and recreational fisheries serving as revenue sources as well as job creators. For example, much of the Louisiana coast relies on the commercial fish economy, as more than 1.1 billion pounds of fish and shellfish are harvested annually in the region. This annual haul translates into more than $300 million in revenue for Louisiana fishermen.  Likewise, 2011 fishing hauls in California, Maine and Florida were valued at more than $201 million, $424 million and $224 million respectively.

Recreational fishing also represents an important economic industry for coastal counties. In 2010 alone, there were more than 71 million fishing trips nationwide. In 2011, angler sport fishermen spent 3.2 million days fishing in the southeast region of the United States, generating $239 million in economic output and supporting 3,100 jobs. Understanding the economic impacts of commercial and recreational fishing, coastal county leaders and their partners are investing in restoration efforts to support their local economies.  Restoration projects in Clallam County, Washington and Sonoma County, California provide examples of how communities can pursue environmental restoration to protect and preserve their local fisheries. 

The Morse Creek Floodplain Reconnection Project

The North Olympic Salmon Coalition, in partnership with Clallam County and various federal, state and local partners, pursued the Morse Creek Floodplain Reconnection Project to improve stream conditions in the Morse Creek watershed. Due to impaired channel conditions, Morse Creek experienced population declines of its native salmon and cutthroat trout populations.  The project restored Morse Creek to its pre-1930 conditions by removing a 1,100 foot dike, constructing 19 engineered log jams and adding 700 feet of side channels to provide a winter habitat for native salmon species.  Overall, the restoration effort helped to restore 9.3 acres of floodplain and close to 7 acres of riparian zone. The Coalition also partnered with Clallam County and the Lower Elwha Tribe to train volunteers to perform data collection and help maintain native vegetation. Overall, the restoration project increased spawning of all salmon and trout populations in Morse Creek. 

Dutch Bill Creek Barrier Removal

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Stream flow of Dutch Bill Creek was increased as a result of new construction of rock weirs below the Market St. Culvert.

The Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District, with funding support from Sonoma County, established the Dutch Bill Creek Fish Barrier Removal Project in 2009 to eliminate all fish passage barriers in Dutch Bill Creek, a 6.5 mile stream in western Sonoma County.  The project entailed three major components: the removal of a small (15‘ high) dam, the retrofitting of the Market Street culverts in the Camp Meeker community and the installation of rock weirs below the culvert. In all, the project opened 3.22 linear miles of habitat for steelhead and coho salmon spawning migration.  As a result, the area has witnessed an increase of recreational fish and tourism opportunities.  In addition, the project was able to galvanize the community through focused engagement efforts, which created community ownership of the project, as well as a base for future environmental restoration projects.

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Community volunteers of all ages helped with the planting of native plants around Dutch Bill Creek.

Restoration Grant Opportunity

Counties can click here​ to apply for the next round of Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Program funding, or contact Jen Horton (jhorton@naco.org​) for more details.

Stay tuned for the third installment of the “Restoring Coastal Habitats for Resilient Coastal Economies” web series that will overview examples of restoration initiatives to Support Coastal Tourism.

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