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March 10, 2022

Skagit County Commissioners thank Rep. Debra Lekanoff for culvert funding in State Capital Budget

Yesterday, the Washington State Legislature finalized SB 5651, the State’s supplemental capital budget. Among other appropriations, this bill provides Skagit County with $1 million to bring 11 of its highest priority culverts to full design. This funding will help the County leverage other funding opportunities, particularly those created by Senator Cantwell in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

This budget proviso was written and sponsored by Representative Debra Lekanoff, who represents Skagit County as part of the 40th legislative district.

“We owe the Representative a huge thanks for this funding and for believing in these projects and our concept,” said Commissioner Ron Wesen. “We can all sincerely agree that restoration and protection of salmon, steelhead and bull trout populations is critical. Fish barrier removal is key to doing so, and this funding will help us remove more culverts more quickly. It’s a good day for all in Skagit.”

Since 1990, Skagit County has completed a total of 55 culvert removal projects, both alone and in partnership with other entities. The County is also currently working on improving passage at two crossings on Fisher Creek, one on Ovenell Slough and two on Osterman Creek. These accomplishments have been some of the simplest projects to complete, and those that remain require a more complicated permitting, easement and project design process. The new state funding will allow the County to bring 11 high priority culverts to full design making the timely success of these projects more likely.

Commissioner Lisa Janicki said, “This funding, leveraged with a local match, will allow us to move forward quickly on these projects. Representative Lekanoff’s work securing this funding supports studies and prioritization done by our staff, Skagit River System Cooperative, Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group and others. Fish restoration in the Skagit is truly a collaborative effort, and we’re thankful to have the Representative on our team.”

Commissioner Peter Browning said, “We are grateful that Representative Lekanoff championed this initiative. We also appreciate the vision and leadership of retired Public Works Director Dan Berentson, Public Works Director Grace Kane, and the Skagit County Natural Resources Division in assembling these projects."

More information about Skagit’s Natural Resource management and fish restoration can be found here or by calling Skagit County Public Works at 360-416-1400.