The King County Council has approved a new plan to help restore salmon habitat along the Green River.
Named “Re-Green the Green,” the program will use several existing sources of funding to plant shade trees along the Green River to help maintain lower water temperatures during periods of extreme heat.
“Our iconic King (Chinook) Salmon are dying in the Green River because the water is too warm,” said King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove. “These salmon need cool water, food and shelter to survive. The most affordable way to help cool the water in the Green River is to plant large trees along the river to provide shade and shelter.”
The program was approved Monday (Sept. 14) as part of unanimously adopted changes to the county budget. Through the plan, King County will work with the cities of Kent, Auburn and Tukwila, as well as the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe and private property owners to identify stretches of the Green River where large trees can be planted to provide shade. The program will build upon mapping work already completed by the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe.
The King County program will then use voluntary, non-regulatory approaches, such as grants, incentives and technical assistance to work with local governments and private property owners to plant trees to provide needed shade.
“People know that salmon are threatened, and I have talked with hundreds of people who want to help,” Upthegrove said. “Re-Green the Green will coordinate these efforts so we can make the most of scarce resources to provide shade and habitat for the salmon.”
The Green Duwamish and Central Puget Sound Habitat Plan calls for the planting of native shade trees to cool the river and improve the water quality. Shade trees also provide habitat for insects that are a food source for young salmon before they enter Puget Sound.
King County’s Conservations Future grant program has approved $250,000 for the program. The King County Flood Control District has also budgeted $250,000 through its Cooperative Watershed Management Program. The recent action by the King County Council establishes the work plan to implement the Re-Green the Green program using these grant funds.