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$90 million DNR funding request focused on environment, restoring salmon habitat

The commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources submitted a $90 million funding request that's primarily focused on restoring aquatic habitat for dwindling salmon runs.

The commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources submitted a $90 million funding request that's primarily focused on restoring aquatic habitat for dwindling salmon runs.

The money would go toward removing toxins, derelict vessels, and other marine debris while restoring fish passages and eel grass beds.

It would also help fund research to better understand the diet of salmon and how to protect them.

RELATED: County budget calls for investment into salmon habitat

Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz says she will also develop more urban forests to lessen stormwater run-off.

"We're not going to just have it be a moment in time where we say, yes, we must do something, then go back to our daily lives ... and we forget every one of us has a part in protecting salmon and orcas."

Franz says we all have a responsibility to "step up and make sure orcas and salmon don't die on our watch." She has watched for decades as leaders have made similar calls for action. This time, however, things need to happen faster and more effectively.

The call to protect salmon habitat comes as the Souther Resident Killer Whale population has declined to a 30-year low. A state task force says orcas are struggling from pollution, boat noise, and lack of Chinook salmon.

The salmon population, experts say, is declining because of dams, habitat loss, and overfishing.

The funding request was sent in advance of the 2019 Legislative session. It would fund "direct implementation" of recommendations made by the task force.