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Working together, people can make a real difference in the health of their lake and its watershed, but lake projects can only be successfully implemented if adequate funds are available and the appropriate permits are obtained. Anticipating project costs, securing funding and working within the regulatory framework of appropriate public agencies with jurisdiction-these are key ingredients of any successful lake project, big or small.

Home-grown money

When reviewing potential sources of money, lake groups should not overlook the possibility of raising money from within the organization. Modest annual dues can provide a pool of funds. Dues or a one-time charge for a specific project also help bond people to the group: when members give a few dollars, they tend to feel more committed to a cause. Lake groups can also organize fundraisers to pay for projects. Garage or bake sales, dances or fun runs can build enthusiasm and raise money at the same time.

Government grants

Money for lake projects is available from several sources. King County Water and Land Resources Division can supply information and serve as a sponsoring agency for some grants. Two sources for lake projects are:

Centennial Clean Water Fund (CCWF), administered by the Washington State Department of Ecology (WSDOE) and financed primarily by tobacco tax revenues. Eligible projects include lake restoration, public information, education and watershed improvement. However, CCWF money must be sponsored and matched (25 to 50 percent) by local or tribal governments.

Aquatic Weeds Management Fund, also managed by WSDOE, financed through annual license fees for boat trailers, are made available to lake groups through local government. Grants are available for technical assistance, public education and projects that help control nuisance aquatic plants. Money can also be used to develop an Integrated Aquatic Plant Management Plan, a required element of a project that involves the removal and management of nuisance aquatic plants.

Special "early infestation" grants are also available for projects to eradicate or control invasive non-native or noxious plants. King County's Community Stewardship Grants for small projects are also available for community groups and schools in unincorporated King County to encourage watershed protection and enhancement at the local level. Call (206) 296-8349 for more information.

Lakeside rules and regulations

Everyone wants to take the right actions for their lake, but not everyone has the same idea of what the right actions are. For this reason, federal, state and local guidelines and regulations have been enacted, establishing rules for work performed in or adjacent to lakes. Before you roll up your sleeves and get involved in any project that has the potential to affect King County's water resources, it's best to familiarize yourself with these rules to make sure your work will help and not create additional problems in our lakes and their watersheds.

Shoreline Management Code classifies lakes by their natural features and the amount of urbanization. Permits are required before undertaking any project whose cost exceeds $2,500 or in any way interferes with normal public use of a lake. Such projects include dredging, drilling, dumping, land-filling or bulkhead construction. Aquatic plant management projects can be undertaken with a shoreline exemption review from King County Department of Development and Environmental Services (DDES) at (206) 296-6640 or, within incorporated areas, from your local jurisdiction.

Clearing and grading permits are needed for any work within designated sensitive areas and the buffers that surround them. If work will take place in unincorporated parts of the county, these permits can be obtained from DDES (206) 296-6640. Exemptions can be granted for removal of noxious weeds like purple loosestrife and Eurasian milfoil. Within incorporated areas, the appropriate city government should be contacted.

King County's Zoning Code (Sensitive Areas Ordinance) prohibits any clearing of plants and any earth work along the edges of lakes or streams, within wetlands, or inside the buffer zones of these and other sensitive areas. Typically, buffers extend 25 to 100 feet from the outer edge of a sensitive area. Only with an approved permit exemption, or variance, from King County can such activities take place. For more information about sensitive areas regulations, call DDES at(206) 296-6640.

King County's Code Enforcement Section 206-296-6680 will provide assistance in addressing illegal filling, dumping, sensitive area violations and other related King County land use code violations. Drainage complaints or water quality concerns can be directed to WLRD's assistance program (206) 296-1900.

Looking to finance your lake project?
Consider these public and private sources

Environmental education grants are available from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 206-553-1207 for workshops, teacher training, signage and other public information projects. Wetlands for Washington Program grants, available through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Washington State Ecosystems Conservation Project 360-753-9440, can be used to restore or enhance wetlands bordering lakes.

The Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, (360) 902-2260 in Olympia offers grants for fisheries education, habitat improvement or fish production-related projects. Through the Cooperative Projects Program, the Department of Fish and Wildlife (360) 902-2806 also offers grants for habitat development and public education. The Stewardship Incentive Program of the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (external link) 360-825-1631 in Olympia provides funding for fisheries and wildlife enhancement and protection for forest, soil, water, and wetland protection.

Grants from the nonprofit Mid-Sound Regional Fisheries Enhancement Group 206-386-4308 in Seattle are earmarked for projects related to salmon and trout preservation, including education, stream rehabilitation, habitat repair, environmental enhancement or related activities.

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For questions about lakes in King County, please contact Rachael Gravon, Water Quality Planner or Chris Knutson, Project Manager, Lake Stewardship Program.