American Rivers applauds King County Flood Control District for leadership on flood protection, salmon recovery

March 11, 2020

Upthegrove votes to save one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers

March 10, 2020
Contact: Brandon Parsons (512) 517-4001

Seattle – American Rivers today praised the King County Flood Control District and Council Member Dave Upthegrove for voting to approve a forward-thinking vision to safeguard communities from flooding while simultaneously supporting other community needs including salmon and orca recovery in the Green-Duwamish River.

The adoption of a supplemental budget today solidifies this vision by doubling investments in salmon recovery, prioritizing multiple benefit projects and creating new grant programs to support urban streams, coastal erosion, and barriers to fish passage throughout all parts of the county.

In April 2019, American Rivers named the Green-Duwamish among America’s Most Endangered Rivers because of the threat that outdated flood management poses to salmon, wildlife and communities. In January, Council Member Upthegrove was appointed Chair of the Flood Control District, and pledged to oversee major reforms at the Flood Control District that are critical to saving the Green-Duwamish.

Reforms are intended to accomplish two fundamental goals:

  1. Strengthen the District’s commitment to habitat, salmon and Orca recovery, and other environmental benefits.
  2. Provide more opportunities for areas outside of major river corridors to benefit from the work of the district.

The District’s new budget contains critical funding priorities, including:

  • Double funding for salmon recovery – from $4.8M to $9.6M.
  • Providing new ongoing funding to address urban streams, barriers to fish passage and coastal erosion throughout all parts of the County.

Funding two immediate projects that provide essential fish habitat and enhanced flood protection.

More than $163 million has been invested to restore salmon habitat in the Green-Duwamish alone and over $1 billion will be invested in the Duwamish clean-up, fish passage at Howard Hanson Dam, and Lower Green River Corridor Flood Hazard Management Plan over the next 50 years. King County has committed to invest an additional $6 billion in the next decade to unify efforts to protect clean water and habitat throughout the region. Aligning the Flood Control District’s work with these existing programs is essential to tackling King County’s most complex environmental problems and is a smart use of taxpayer dollars.

Wendy McDermott, Director of the Puget Sound and Columbia River Basins at American Rivers, made the following statement:

“This is a major step forward for this endangered river, and it’s the kind of vision that could make the King County Flood Control District a national leader in innovative flood protection efforts. With river health at risk, salmon runs struggling and climate change adding new challenges, we must increase investments in salmon recovery and embrace multi-benefit flood protection solutions that restore habitat and protect water quality. We applaud Councilman Upthegrove for committing to these worthy goals.”

Read about the Green-Duwamish listing in America’s Most Endangered Rivers of 2019: