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Do the crime, pay for the sublime? Polluters' fines benefit Oregon watershed and habitat restoration

Fines paid by prosecuted polluters are being put to use healing Oregon's watersheds and wildlife habitat. At a ceremony Thursday in Portland, Gov. John Kitzhaber will award grants totaling $481,690 to 13 projects throughout the state.

The Governor's Fund for the Environment was established in 2005 in cooperation with the
U.S. Attorney's Office and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Since 2005, federal prosecutors have collected more than $4.5 million in fines and settlements paid by polluters. The fund is administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, a non-profit. Recipients provide matching funds or in-kind contributions.

The 2011 grants go to:

Mary's River Watershed Council -- $49,275 for habitat and floodplain along seven miles of Shotpouch Creek in Lincoln County. The project will install large wood structures and 20 sites and plant willows to improve cutthroat trout and beaver habitat.

The Nature Conservancy -- $50,000 for floodplain restoration work at up to 11 sites in the upper Willamette River basin of Lane County.

Cascade Pacific Resource Conservation and Development Area Inc. -- $47,868 to work with landowners on projects to help steelhead and chinook salmon in the Calapooia River and the North Santiam and South Santiam watersheds.

Salmon-Safe Inc. -- $32,455 to improve "fish friendly" farming practices at Willamette Valley hop farms, including technical assistance to reduce pesticide use and protect water quality.

Clean Water Services -- $15,232 for water quality trading projects and to reduce nutrient
loads in the Upper Klamath Basin of Klamath, Lake and Jackson counties.

West Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District -- $10,000 to pay for a pesticide collection event on Sauvie Island, allowing farmers free and anonymous disposal of outdated or banned substances.

Sandy River Basin Watershed Council -- $50,000 for work on the Middle Sandy River, primarily to reconnect coho and chinook habitat on public and private land.

whychus_creek.JPGView full size Whychus Creek near Sisters.
North Fork John Day Watershed Council -- $35,400 to abandon the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers channel on Fox Creek in Grant County and redirect water to the historic river channel.

The Freshwater Trust -- $38,000 to help summer steelhead and spring chinook in the Rudio Creek watershed of Grant County.

Tillamook Estuaries Partnership -- $50,000 to survey stream crossings throughout the Tillamook Bay watershed and prioritize culvert replacement based on fish passage and upstream habitat.

Western Rivers Conservancy -- $35,000 to take on a second phase of habitat restoration along Hay Creek and vegetation work on the main stem of the John Day River and at the mouth of Esau Canyon.

Umatilla County Soil & Water Conservation District -- $43,460 to remove two abandoned irrigation dams and restore three miles of stream passage for summer steelhead, redband trout and lamprey.

National Forest Foundation -- $25,000 to replace 6,000 feet of a leaky irrigation pipeline, restoring water to Whychus Creek in Deschutes County, improving stream flow and improving fish habitat.
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