The funding Murray earmarked includes:
- $5 million for the I-90/Plum Creek Land Exchange (Kittitas County). These funds will be used to help complete the goal of the I-90/Plum Creek Land Exchange.
- $1.5 million for the Yakima River Forest (Kittitas County). The funds will be used for Yakima River Forest Legacy Land Easement.
- $1 million for the Upper Raging River Valley (King County). The funds will be used for the Raging River Forest Legacy Land Easement.
- $1.45 million for the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge (Pacific County). The funds will be used to fight an infestation of Spartina grass.
“In the face of tight federal budgets, I am proud to have secured this important funding for land protection and restoration projects in Washington state,” Murray said. “Not only will these funds help preserve our state’s national treasures, they will also help protect our wildlife, boost our economy and our preserve the way of life.”
Murray helped to secure $5 million for the I-90/Plum Creek Land Acquisition, which was zeroed out in the President’s request and was not included in the House bill. These funds will help the Forest Service acquire land left out of the original land exchange. The goal of this project is to address the ecological holes and land management problems created by the checkerboard land ownership pattern in the area. The purchase will also help create wildlife corridors to allow Northwest species to maintain their North-South migration patterns. The $5 million Murray secured is the fourth-largest earmark for a single acquisition in the entire FY 2004 Interior Appropriations bill. “This latest step forward is a tremendous accomplishment,” Murray said. “All involved in this project deserve a great deal of praise, especially Plum Creek for its patience. I’m also proud since this appropriation is one of the largest land acquisition earmarks in the entire 2004 Interior Appropriations Bill.”
Yakima River Forest
The Yakima River Forest is located in Central Washington. It is an important wildland area that is currently at risk. The forest’s riverside ecosystem provides critical habitat for endangered species, including bull and steelhead trout, as well as Chinook and Coho salmon.
“These funds will help continue the effort to protect priority acres within the Yakima River Forest,” Murray said. “Acquisition of easements on these lands will help prevent suburban sprawl and will preserve the beautiful scenery along I-90, the only interstate highway in the country designated as a national Scenic Byway.”
Raging River Valley
The Raging River Valley is located just south of I-90 near Tiger Mountain. The area is surrounded by previously-protected land and includes over four miles of salmon habitat along the Raging River. Protection of the area was given the highest priority by the Washington State Forester for the upcoming year.
“The forests and habitat in the Raging River Valley are rapidly being lost and fragmented due to suburban development,” Murray said. “These funds will help protect roughly 2,500 acres of critical wildlife habitat and watershed in an area that is highly threatened.”
Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge
The Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge, located in southwestern Washington, was recently designated as Number Two on the Audubon Society’s list of top ten locations in which the threat of invasive species is significant and growing. Invasive species are harmful, nonnative plants, animals, and microorganisms found throughout the United States that are causing widespread damage to bird and wildlife habitat, crops, rangelands, and waterways.
Willapa Bay is threatened by Spartina grass, which is rapidly infesting intertidal mudflats and salt marshes. This is the second year Willapa Bay has received federal funding to fight Spartina. In the fiscal year 2003 Interior Appropriations Bill, Murray secured $1 million for Willapa Bay. In April 2003, Senator Murray visited the Refuge and met with Charlie Stenvahl, Manager of the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge.
“I am pleased we’re keeping our commitment to fight Spartina grass in the Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge,” Murray said. “The eradication of Spartina is critical to protecting the Bay’s fragile wildlife habitat and to helping shellfish growers continue their livelihood.”