(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) today announced that she has secured $1.4 million for the Northwest Straits Commission in the Senate Appropriations bill. Murray helped launch the innovative grassroots approach to marine protection seven years ago and has secured over $4 million for the restoration efforts in the past six years.
“I am pleased to have secured this funding for the Northwest Straits Commission. This is exactly the type of grassroots, collaborative effort needed to restore salmon runs, protect marine environments and increase environmental awareness,” Senator Murray said.
In the late 1990s, Washington communities were divided over how to protect marine resources in the Northwest Straits; an area in the northwest part of Washington from the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Northern Puget Sound to the Canadian border.
In 1997, Senator Murray helped found the Commission, bringing opposing stakeholders together, to create an advisory commission that would address local issues. At a time when few thought the experiment would work, their coordinated efforts created an innovate model of restoring and protecting marine habitats. As a result, the Northwest Straits Commission was created a year later as the best approach to restoring the marine resources of the Northwest Straits.
Murray secured funding for the Northwest Straits Commission with the requirement that after five years an independent panel would evaluate its progress. In April 2004, a national evaluation panel of experts chaired by Bill Ruckelshaus declared the program worthwhile, encouraging Congress to continue supporting the Northwest Straits Commission. “They have used local ideas and sound science to come up with useful, effective accomplishments,” said Ruckelshaus.
“The success of the Northwest Straits Commission proves that when our communities come together to protect our environment, the result can be extraordinary. This federal funding will help to continue these impressive efforts,” Murray said.
The funding will now go to the full Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration.