(WASHINGTON, D.C.) ‑‑ Senator Murray announced today that she has secured millions in the fiscal year 2004 Veterans Administration, Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Commerce, Justice, State and the Judiciary Appropriations bills for community and environmental initiatives in the Puget Sound region.
"I am proud to have secured this important funding that will help improve the lives of all Puget Sound residents," said Murray. "Our region's economy is facing tough times and we must do all that we can to attract and retain business and jobs. I know this funding will go a long way towards improving the quality of life and increasing economic prosperity for our region."
Maury Island Land Conservation, Maury Island - $2 million - The bill provides $2 million toward one of the missing links in the salmon cycle: protection of key habitat lands along Puget Sound. This funding contributes to the goal of preserving up to 250 acres of rural, coastal land on Maury Island, some of which is currently threatened by gravel extraction activities. Protection of this property has been identified as a key to the Maury Island Conservation Initiative, an effort to preserve one of the state=s largest Madrona forests, and nearly one mile of shoreline habitat that is critical to salmon, cutthroat trout, herring and bottomfish.
Project proponents are seeking additional matching funds from local, state and private sources. The acquisition partnership is structuring an innovative future ownership configuration to promote high-quality, cost-effective, local stewardship with stakeholders including: Vashon-Maury Island Land Trust, county and state agencies, and Cascade Land Conservancy.
Gene Duvernoy, President of CLC, one of the partners involved in this transaction said, "Senator Murray's leadership comes at a critical time for this project. She has provided the turn-key funding to enable this partnership to raise the rest of the capital for this acquisition effort and to demonstrate to the landowner that we can credibly construct a conservation transaction."
Bainbridge Island Land Conservation, Bainbridge Island - $3 million - The bill provides $3 million to protect land on Bainbridge Island. The funding will be part of an effort to acquire a 22 acre site that includes over 3,000 feet of shoreline on Eagle Harbor and Puget Sound. Much of this shoreline is important habitat for smelt which is an important food for endangered salmon. The site also has significant historical importance as it was the location of the former Eagledale Ferry Terminal , which served as the debarkation point for the islands Japanese-American community as they were sent off to Manzanar Internment Camp during World War II. The site is being considered by the National Park Service for its national historic significance. The City of Bainbridge Island hopes to make the area a waterfront park.
The Compass Center, Seattle - $500,000 - The funding will help the Compass Center's campaign to expand and rehabilitate its existing building in Pioneer Square which sustained around $2 million in damage during the Nisqually earthquake. This work will greatly increase the capacity of the Center to serve the homeless needs in the city. The Center currently provides 80 people a warm, safe place to stay each night, as well as a hygiene center and the only bank for the homeless in Seattle.
Lutheran Community Services, SeaTac - $300,000 - This funding is for the construction of a new building and facility that will provide critical services for those in South King County. The services will include childcare; counseling and referral services to the immigrant and refugee community; a family support center; a medical clinic to serve low-income, Medicaid, and under-insured people; home care services to assist with in independent living; and mental health counseling. South King County is greatly lacking in these type of services despite the fact that the area includes the County's highest unemployment claims and is home to fifty percent of the County's population who receive public assistance.
Vashon Sewer District, Vashon Island - $450,000 - This funding will help the Vashon Sewer District address significant debt incurred while undertaking two major projects to provide wastewater treatment for neighborhoods which had been declared Public Health Hazards. Both neighborhoods were impacting Puget Sound and there were minimal options for new systems. Costs of the projects doubled from original estimates requiring the District to incur millions in debt. This has resulted in monthly sewer assessments ranging from $285 to $500 per household. The federal funding will help reduce these monthly assessments.
Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery, Statewide - $90 million - The bill funded the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery program at $90 million. This is the same as current year spending and the same as provided by the House in its FY 2004 bill. The Senate allocates $26 million of this total for Washington state, with an additional $8.5 million going to Pacific Coastal Tribes, and $2.5 million going to Columbia River Tribes. (Other allocations are $26 million for Alaska, $11 million for Oregon, $11 million for California, and $5 million for Idaho) The Washington state funding goes to the Washington State Salmon Recovery Funding Board (SuRF Board) which then works with groups around the state to advance Salmon recovery projects.
Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, Public Building Mapping System, Statewide - $250,000 - During a school incident, such as the one that occurred at Columbine High School in Colorado, first responders need access to school floor plans, known hazards and evacuation plans. In 2001, the Washington State Legislature appropriated funds to facilitate a building mapping system for various schools in Washington state. It has been very successful. Its success, however, has caused state and local government leaders to request a building mapping system for all public buildings, not just schools. In order to initiate the public building mapping system, the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC) must first establish the central site. The funds provided by Senator Murray will allow the project to go forward.
Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, Statewide - $350,000 - The Washington State Tribes and the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission Coordinated Water Quality Program, an EPA/Tribal partnership, has provided a forum for continuous and meaningful communication between tribes, state and federal agencies. It has generated successful state/federal partnerships to improve water quality and has helped fulfill the federal government=s trust obligation to tribes.