$2 Million Grant Awarded for Hoh River, Washington
Seattle, WA ~ Two conservation organizations, the Hoh River Trust and Western Rivers Conservancy, hailed the announcement of a $2 million federal grant to buy and conserve land along the Hoh River, a legendary salmon stream on Washington's Olympic Peninsula.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service awarded $14 million in grants to the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for projects in Washington State, including $2 million for the Hoh River. Hoh River Trust and Western Rivers Conservancy submitted the proposal that secured this funding from the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund for the third straight year. This year's grant complements $6.7 million already granted to the project in 2003 and 2004, which allowed the Trust to purchase 3,500 acres of Hoh River property. The support of U.S. Representative Norm Dicks and Washington DNR Commissioner Doug Sutherland was critical in securing this funding.
"The Hoh River Trust is thrilled with this grant," said Phil Davis, the Trust's new Executive Director. "There's an enormous amount of competition for these dollars across the state and the country. The fact that we have received funding for the third year in a row demonstrates the importance of conserving fish and wildlife habitat in the Hoh River valley. The grant will enable us to purchase an additional 1,176 acres of key Hoh River lands and put them into conservation stewardship. Knowing that these lands will never be broken up into ranchettes and other forms of overdevelopment is important for both the species that rely on intact habitat and the local community that has enjoyed and respected the river's bounty for generations. We are proud to continue a legacy of access and outdoor recreation in the Hoh valley on lands acquired by the Trust. This grant will enable the Hoh River Trust to fund the restoration and conservation of these river lands for the benefit of fish, wildlife and the people that enjoy this natural treasure."
Davis' passion for fish, wildlife and rivers led him to take the helm at the Hoh River Trust after twenty-five years in the corporate world. The Trust also hired a Director of Land Management, Mike Hagen, this past summer. Hagen brings to the Trust extensive experience in land management, restoration forestry and natural resource policy on the Olympic Peninsula. Also this summer, the Trust added local forester Randy Mesenbrink to its Board of Directors. Mesenbrink retired after a thirty-one-year career at the Washington DNR.
The funding source - the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund - helps protect endangered and threatened species by providing federal funds to acquire land associated with existing Habitat Conservation Plans.
The Hoh River Trust will use the grant to purchase 1,176 acres of land along the Hoh, bringing the Trust's inventory of land to 4,500 acres. The grant will conserve important habitat for marbled murrelet, Northern spotted owl, bald eagle, and bull trout - all listed as threatened species. The acquisitions funded by the grant will also provide habitat connectivity in the Hoh valley, safeguard some of the strongest salmon and steelhead runs remaining in the lower 48 states, and provide for increased public access and recreation along this blue-ribbon stream.
The long-term vision of the Hoh River Trust is to acquire lands from willing sellers along the lower 30-mile reach of the Hoh River from Olympic National Park to the Pacific Ocean. The Trust will manage these lands as a refuge for fish and wildlife as well as provide for recreational access. The Hoh River Trust was founded in 2003 by Western Rivers Conservancy and the Wild Salmon Center in partnership to create a legacy of conservation along the Hoh River.