Lower Yakima River Water Quality & Habitat
Benton Conservation District hosts the
Lower Yakima Water Quality & Habitat Monitoring Group, with the goal of coordinating resources across local, state, federal, tribal and non-profit entities. Members share information about projects and funding, seek input to monitoring plans or project proposals, evaluate data and help develop priorities for future work.
Financial support is provided by
the Washington State Department of Ecology.
Yakima River Water Stargrass
Benton Conservation District (BCD) is leading the community effort to deal with water stargrass. With funding and support from the Yakima Basin Fish and Wildlife Recovery Board and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, BCD is educating and organizing landowners and volunteers. Water stargrass is a perennial plant that forms a dense two-inch thick mat of roots. When salmon return to the lower Yakima to spawn, they find their traditional nesting grounds covered by stargrass, and they are forced to migrate further. Water stargrass has steadily increased over the last decade, causing salmon spawning in the lower river to decrease. During the day, water stargrass produces oxygen. After the sun goes down, water stargrass consumes more oxygen than it produces, and sometimes causes dangerous drops in the amount of oxygen available to fish and other aquatic life. Water stargrass has become so thick that anglers, boaters, hunters, swimmers and other recreationists can't enjoy the river as they once did. In cooperation with Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, BCD located some traditional fall chinook salmon spawning grounds with safe and secure access. BCD recruited and organized volunteer work parties with the aid of regional media. Through the summer, BCD staff and volunteers cleared 1.5 acres of the riverbed, opening it up to salmon spawning again. Special thanks to the dedicated landowner and volunteers who shared their time this summer to make the Yakima River a better place for salmon and for people!