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December 2012
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CityLink Seattle

Seattle City Light Acquires 32.5 Acres of Salmon Habitat



 

Photo of a Chinook salmon.

Chinook salmon — Photo by Dave Bickford, courtesty of U.S. Forest Service

Seattle City Light completed the final purchase of three properties totaling 32.5 acres of land to protect key spawning areas for Chinook salmon in the Skagit River.

“The Skagit Hydroelectric Project generates about 39 percent of the electricity Seattle City Light produces,” Superintendent Jorge Carrasco said. “We have a commitment to our customers and our Skagit River partners to operate our dams in an environmentally responsible manner.  As the Skagit River helps power Seattle homes, we, too, are working to help maintain populations of salmon and other fish, as well as protect critical habitat areas along the Skagit River.”

The Dec. 11 purchase agreement involved 4.5 acres of land on the Skagit River, six miles upriver from Marblemount known as the Hylback property. The vacant land was at risk for development. It includes about 250 feet of Skagit River shoreline and is adjacent to other City Light-owned fish and wildlife habitat conservation lands. City Light acquired the property using a $31,500 grant from the Salmon Recovery Funding Board.

“This was another important piece of property for salmon recovery,” said Kaleen Cottingham, the director of the Recreation and Conservation Office, which administers Salmon Recovery Funding Board grants. “When combined with the other city-owned and publicly protected land, it continues to protect this high priority reach of the upper Skagit River.”

“This is just another example of a great project from Seattle City Light,” Cottingham said. “Since 2000, Seattle City Light has been awarded eight grants totaling more than $2.9 million for salmon recovery work. They are an important partner in helping ensure we protect and restore habitat for salmon.”

Earlier in December, City Light closed on the purchase of about 20.5 acres of vacant land at risk for development along Diobsud Creek, a Chinook spawning tributary to the Skagit River upstream from Marblemount. The property includes about 500 feet of shoreline along the creek and is adjacent to US Forest Service property. This area of Diobsud Creek, known as the Kuno property, has a side channel and relic channels, making it great habitat for Chinook, steelhead and native char. City Light paid $136,150 in matching funds toward a Salmon Recovery Funding Board grant that paid for the land.

In November, City Light paid $20,600 for about 7.5 acres of land along the Sauk River, which is a major tributary of the Skagit River. The vacant Morgan/Wall property is located one mile southeast of Darrington. It has about 660 feet of Sauk River shoreline and connects to existing City Light conservation land in the area. The utility hopes to acquire more land in the area to open up access to wetlands and off-channel habitat for juvenile salmon.

The recent acquisitions bring Seattle City Light’s conservation land holdings to protect threatened Chinook salmon to about 2,680 acres in the Skagit River watershed. City Light also owns 231 acres for general fish habitat protection and 10,081 acres of conservation land to protect wildlife habitat in the area.

Seattle City Light is the 10th largest public electric utility in the United States.  It has some of the lowest cost customer rates of any urban utility, providing reliable, renewable and environmentally responsible power to nearly 1 million Seattle area residents.  City Light has been greenhouse gas neutral since 2005, the first electric utility in the nation to achieve that distinction.