Northwest NEWS

August 3, 1998

Valley Special

Fish and farmers gain by Council's decision

   Another step was made last week to protect Puget Sound salmon, as the Metropolitan King County Council voted to allow limited excavation and dredging in roadside and agricultural ditches that feed into salmon-bearing streams.
  
   By a vote of 9-1, the Council gave farmers a way to maintain their land without harming fish resource areas.
  
   "Many people worked long and hard to find a way to solve the problem for the farmers and the fish," said Council Chair Louise Miller. "We had a unique challenge to keep the farmers farming, preserve resource lands and protect fish."
  
   Earlier this year, the county's Department of Development and Environmental Services determined that routine maintenance of agricultural ditches was not allowed under the Shorelines Master Program‹-even when farmers used the best techniques available.
  
   The Council's action last week amended the shoreline program to allow ditch maintenance, provided it is carried out in a manner consistent with the Best Management Practices developed under local, state and federal guidelines.
  
   The changes will also help alleviate flooding in some rural areas.
  
   Councilmember Larry Phillips, chair of the Regional Water Quality Committee, said the vote was a key step toward improving salmon habitat throughout the region.
  
   "This is yet another example of King County's willingness to be creative when it comes to protecting both environmental and economic resources," said Phillips.