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Seattle City Light awarded grant for salmon habitat restoration

Seattle City Light received a $40,000 grant from the Salmon Recovery Funding Board to support salmon and steelhead habitat restoration along the lower Tolt River near Carnation, Wash., the utility reported.

“The Tolt River is important for salmon, steelhead and Seattle City Light,” City Light Superintendent Jorge Carrasco said. “We are committed to meeting the energy needs of our customers in an environmentally responsible manner, and this grant adds to our continuing stewardship efforts to protect fish in the rivers we share.”

Recently, City Light reported it would receive 850 acres of wilderness from the Washington Department of Natural Resources for stewardship under the utility’s Wildlife Lands Program.(HydroWorld1/10)

City Light is working on the Tolt River habitat restoration project in partnership with the Stilly Snohomish Fisheries Enhancement Task Force. City Light is providing $27,600 in matching funds, and the fisheries task force is contributing $6,150.

Restoration work will include the removal of invasive plant species and replanting of native trees on three acres of City Light-owned land that includes an important spawning area for Chinook and winter steelhead. Both fish are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Work is expected to begin in March.

The invasive plants are mostly Himalayan blackberries. They will be replanted with a mix of native trees and shrubs that provide salmon habitat, shade, and insects that salmon eat.

Fisheries Enhancement Task Force members will conduct community outreach, including volunteer plantings and events with local schools. Involving the community is designed to raise awareness of how neighbors along the river can make their landscaping more salmon-friendly.

Seattle City Light’s hydroelectric project on the Tolt River can produce nearly 17 MW of electricity. That’s about 1 percent of the power City Light generates and enough to serve about 9,700 homes.

Seattle City Light is among the nation’s largest public electric utilities. City Light has been greenhouse gas neutral since 2005 and is the first electric utility in the nation to achieve that distinction, the utility reported.

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