(Washington, D.C.) – Today U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) announced that she has included $1.6 million in funding to help protect and restore the marine waters, habitats and species of the Northwest Straits region. The funding will support local project priorities in Clallam, Island, Jefferson, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish and Whatcom counties. The funding was included in the Fiscal Year 2009 Senate Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) Appropriations bill. Senator Murray is a senior member of the Appropriations Committee.

"The Northwest Straits Initiative has gained national recognition as an innovative model for citizen-based marine resource conservation," Murray stated.  "This funding will help support research, stewardship, and restoration projects that reflect local priorities and contribute to broader marine conservation goals.  Restoring and protecting the Northwest Straits is a priority for Washington state, and I am proud to provide federal support." 

The Northwest Straits Initiative's goal is to restore and protect marine habitat in the straits to achieve ecosystem health and sustainable resource use. The Northwest Straits Commission designs and initiates projects based on sound science and community input that address ongoing and emerging issues in the marine environment.  The Commission is attempting to maintain and expand its diverse membership, and in particular is expanding partnerships with tribal governments and continuing to foster respect for tribal cultures and treaties.

Joe Gaydos, chief scientist of the SeaDoc Society and a Northwest Straits Commissioner applauded Murray’s efforts, “The Northwest Straits Initiative is improving the health of the Northwest Straits region thanks to the hard work of hundreds of real citizens. These fishermen, boaters, moms, dads, hotel owners, bird watchers and beach walkers are doing more than stirring up interest, they are using the best available science to do what we know needs to be done.”

In 1997, Senator Murray and Congressman Jack Metcalf (R-Langley) joined forces, 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 innovative program for restoring and protecting marine habitats.

Since it was first authorized by Congress in 1998, Senator Murray has helped secure over $8.4 million for the Northwest Straits Initiative.

The CJS Appropriations bill was passed out of the full Senate Appropriations Committee today.  It will now move to the Senate floor.