LACEY — Nisqually Land Trust received a $1.3 million state Department of Ecology grant to protect floodplains that provide recharge to groundwater connected to surface streams.

It is one of 15 projects selected for the inaugural grant program.

The program will invest up to $20 million across the state to support local projects to protect rivers and improve stream flows.

In January 2018, the Washington state Legislature created the grant program as part of the stream-flow restoration law that seeks to protect rivers and streams while providing water for rural homes.

Ecology evaluated 46 applications in the first round of the 15-year program and selected 15 projects in 11 watersheds for funding. Priority was given to projects that will acquire existing water rights to offset new uses, develop infrastructure to store and release water, and alter how water is managed to align availability with demand.

“We’re excited to invest in local solutions to water supply challenges,” said Mary Verner, manager of Ecology’s Water Resources program. “These grants will help enhance and restore watersheds for threatened and endangered fish, and balance the need for secure water supplies.”

More than two-thirds of Ecology’s budget goes to Washington communities through grant and loan programs that support environmental projects. The stream-flow restoration grant program is Ecology’s newest funding opportunity through the Legislature’s authorization.

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