House Votes on Interior Appropriations Bill: Blumenauer Secures Funding for Local
Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) worked to persuade the House Appropriations committee to fund the following projects of local interest:
· $10 Million for Land Acquisition in the Columbia River Gorge. This funding will help purchase land in the Columbia River Gorge from willing sellers. The President requested $10 million in his budget for the U.S. Forest Service to purchase land in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Due to recent legislation, the Forest Service has a three-year window of opportunity to purchase these lands in order to protect them from development. These land purchases will help achieve the goals of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Act, which Congress passed in 1986. Blumenauer organized the Oregon congressional delegation to petition the House Appropriations Committee in support of this funding.
· $2.5 million for the Sandy River Watershed. This funding will come from the Land and Water Conservation Fund for the Forest Service to purchase land in the Sandy River Watershed from willing sellers. PGE will also remove its dam on the Sandy River, creating an opportunity for the creation of an eleven-mile long preserve on the Sandy River for fish, wildlife, and recreation. This funding will allow the Forest Service to purchase four properties totaling 390 acres. This will allow for enhanced habitat for endangered fish and wildlife species including black-tailed deer, elk, black bear, and cougar.
· $4 Million for Fish Screens for the Northwest Power Planning Area. This funding will come from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Construction Account. It will fund the installation of fish screens and complete other projects that decrease the incidence of juvenile and adult fish entering water supply systems and decrease fish mortality associated with the withdrawal of water for irrigation. This program is an important element in the effort of states and federal agencies within the Pacific Northwest to implement the Federal Columbia River Power System Biological Opinion and speed the pace of Columbia Basin salmon and steelhead recovery. The program operates in partnership with conservation districts and other local government entities. There is also an overall increase in funding for fish passage projects in the Pacific Northwest. The bill provides $20 million for fish passage projects, with an additional $4 million for Bureau of Land Management fish passages and $14 million for the Forest Service to undertake such projects.
· $500,000 for the Columbia River Estuary Research program (CORIE). This funding will come though the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's (USFWS) Habitat Conservation account to support the Columbia River Estuary Research (CORIE) Program developed by the OGI School of Science and Engineering. This is an advanced environmental monitoring and modeling system in the lower Columbia River that can instantly deliver data about current river conditions, as well as forecast future conditions and create historical data models. The sound scientific data provided by CORIE has, for the first time, brought conflicting federal agencies and river managers to the same table to work together to make informed decisions on sustainable environmental policy. The scientific advances made by CORIE are also playing a significant role in salmon recovery, habitat loss, ecosystem restoration, hydropower management and channel deepening.
The bill allocates funding for the following federal programs: the National Park Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Forest Service, the Indian Health Service, various Energy programs, the Smithsonian Institution, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, and various conservation projects.
After this bill passes in the House, the Senate must pass their version of the spending bill. The House and Senate versions will then be reconciled in a conference committee, accepted by both chambers and then sent to the President for final approval.