Several days each week, Yakima County corrections inmates work to help salmon. Some pull noxious weeds and tend native vegetation planted along creeks to improve habitat in the Upper Yakima Valley. Others install fences to keep livestock away from the streams. They began work in June at sites selected by state Corrections Department staff and biologists from the nation. But the project, financed by a $164,000 state salmon-recovery grant could be the last in Central Washington, unless local governments in Kittitas, Benton and Yakima counties can get together with the nation to sponsor future funding requests. Without a sponsor, the region can't compete for a share of the estimated $54 million in state and federal funds earmarked for salmon recovery over the next two years. However, an umbrella group representing 25 cities, the three counties and the nation say they can create a 'lead entity' or sponsor by October. Paul Ward, environmental manager for the nation's fisheries, said he is optimistic about the group's prospects. 'We are committed to working in a consensus with all entities. This is not a power struggle.'
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