The Holmes Property Acquisition permanently protects 37.5 acres of Yakima River fish habitat. This special area supports Chinook salmon, contributes to reintroduction programs for species no longer existing in the Yakima Sub-basin, and satisfies the intent of our Cooperative Agreement. Yakama Nations acquired the land with the help of Kittitas Conservation Trust (KCT) and other partners. Suncadia contributed $42,873 to the purchase of the property and received acreage acquisition credits for the off-site acquisition targets that are part of the Cooperative Agreement.
The Holmes Property contains a high priority reach that provides floodplain connectivity and rearing habitat for salmon. The stretch of the Yakima River flowing through the property is one of the key reaches where the vast majority of rearing and spawning occurs. In addition to salmon, steelhead live in this reach of the river, as well as resident trout and other fish. The side channels provide young fish protection from artificially high irrigation flows. These flows are released throughout the summer when salmon would historically have used the mainstem to rear in. Over 50% of spring Chinook productivity in the basin occurs upstream of the project area.
To complement the acquisition, KCT applied for and received funding for restoration and outreach. Restoration expanded and improved Coho salmon spawning and rearing habitat. Strategic placement of 74 tons of large rock enhanced in-stream habitat complexity. In addition, we constructed three rock weirs at the downstream entrance to the pond. The weirs improved fish passage between the salmon spawning side channel and the rearing pond. Finally, we planted over 1,400 shrubs and trees across 2.1 acres of riparian and upland area to further enhance the floodplain function of the Holmes side channel habitat.
Besides improving the site, we also encouraged youth’s connection to nature. We hosted an event where over 400 elementary students released Spring Chinook salmon fry into the wild. The students grew these salmon from eggs in their classrooms’ aquariums throughout the year. The event gave them a meaningful experience to connect with nature.