News Releases

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) Sen. Patty Murray today announced the Senate Appropriations Committee's recommendations for spending on the Interior Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2002.

The funding, totaling $54,725,000, will be spent throughout Washington state on land acquisition, ecosystem restoration, historic preservation and wildlife protection. The full Senate now must pass the Interior bill, which will then go to a conference committee with the House.

The Elwha River Ecosystem Restoration effort, the second largest such effort in the U.S., will receive $20 million to plan and design the removal of two dams on the Elwha River, and allow the City of Port Angeles to improve its water system.

"I am pleased the Committee continues to recognize the importance of this project. I will, however, work with Congressman Dicks to retain in conference the House's higher mark of $25.8 million," Murray said.

The state's wildlife and public will also benefit from the acquisition of critical lands set out in the Senate bill. The Pacific Northwest Streams account and the Wild and Scenic Rivers Pacific Northwest account both received a $500,000 increase above the President's budget, for totals of $6.5 million and $2 million respectively. These two accounts help acquire sensitive riparian habitat that will preserve and recover threatened and endangered fish populations.

Other significant land acquisitions include $4 million for the I-90/Plum Creek lands, $6 million for lands in the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area, $1 million for Ebey's Landing National Historic Reserve, and $1 million for Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge.

The bill also included funding for a newly authorized program to help irrigators screen their intake diversions. The fish screens will help the irrigators maintain the operation of their systems without impacting fish populations. The screening program is part of the effort to implement the Columbia / Snake River Biological Opinion.

"I am pleased to announce this funding to preserve and conserve important environmental and natural resource projects throughout Washington state," said Sen. Murray. "The Senate is operating within very tight fiscal constraints because nearly two trillion dollars of the federal surplus has been dedicated to tax cuts. But many of our important priorities will be met with this appropriations bill.