Habitat Restoration Legislation Seeks to Reverse Species Decline on Pacific Coast
6/13/2001 -- -- June 13, 2001
Washington, DC - A key salmon recovery funding measure, HR 1157, sponsored by Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA), passed the House today. The Northern Californian's legislation would direct a total of $600 million over three years to five western states and tribal governments to reverse the decline of salmon and other anadromous fish species. Twenty-six stocks of Pacific salmon are currently listed under the Endangered Species Act.
The bill passed by a 418-6 vote and now heads to the Senate. HR 1157, The Pacific Salmon Recovery Act, would expand the existing Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund to include the State of Idaho and authorizes more money for recovery efforts. The bill would distribute monies equally to California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Alaska for critical habitat projects. The legislation will provide the states and tribal governments within their boundaries with $200 million annually for three years. The eligible states would be required to develop specific goals for their restoration activities and all projects must contribute to the protection or restoration of salmon.
"Habitat restoration is the single greatest component in returning our salmon runs to their former productivity," Thompson said. "States have laid the groundwork for rejuvenating salmon populations. They now need federal assistance to complete their efforts."
Gov. John Kitzhaber (D-OR) was pleased that the House passed the legislation. "I appreciate the leadership that Congressman Thompson, our Oregon delegation and the House of Representatives has shown on this important issue," Kitzhaber said. "I hope that the Senate makes this bill a high priority and passes the bill soon. The inclusion of Idaho in the fund and distributing the dollars equally between the states is very important to the region's salmon recovery efforts."
Glen Spain, of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations said, "Our fishing industry and coastal communities have suffered tremendously because of salmon declines. Salmon restoration means tens of thousands of jobs to coastal communities and a revitalized salmon economy. This bill is an important investment in one of our most precious resources."
Funds provided under this program could be used for salmon enhancement projects such as watershed planning and evaluation, data collection and monitoring, and teaching landowners about ways to improve land and water management practices to protect and restore salmon habitat. To ensure that the bill adds to existing recovery efforts, it would forbid participating states from cutting spending on other salmon habitat restoration programs.
"Today's House vote is an important step toward protecting vital habitat for wild salmon and steelhead throughout the Pacific Northwest and California," said Michael Garrity of American Rivers. "One of the best aspects of this bill is that it would help stem the decline of imperiled Snake River salmon by providing Idaho a new source of salmon recovery funding. Snake River salmon recovery will require more than tributary conservation and restoration, but this would be a much-needed start."
Steve Moyer, vice president for conservation programs for Trout Unlimited said, "We have a long-standing investment in habitat restoration and conservation projects up and down the Pacific coast as a key strategy in recovering salmon and steelhead stocks. In watersheds where we see real habitat improvement, real fisheries improvement is rarely far behind. This legislation will go a long way toward making that type of success happen more frequently and broadly."
A bipartisan coalition of 65 Republican and Democratic Members of Con