News Releases

Murray Secures Funding for Southwest Washington in Senate Appropriations Bill

Sep 17 2003

Columbia River Dredging, Lower Columbia Estuary Restoration, Port of Chinook

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Senator Patty Murray has secured important funding for Southwest Washington environmental and economic development improvements in the Senate Energy & Water Appropriations bill. The bill was passed by the full Senate last night on a vote of 92-0.

Murray secured $5 million to help dredge the Columbia River from Portland to the mouth of the river. The dredging effort, led by the Army Corps of Engineers, will enable larger shipping traffic up the Columbia, thereby increasing the capacity for exports and creating more jobs and economic development in Southwest Washington. The Ports of Vancouver, Longview, Woodland, Kalama, St. Helens, and Portland are supporting the dredging. The House, in its budget, provided $2 million for the same project, and a final figure will be negotiated in a Conference Committee.

The funding for Columbia River dredging is especially significant considering the President’s 2204 budget request for the entire Army Corps of Engineers was $445 million less than the current fiscal year budget. Murray worked closely with and supported her Republican colleague, Chairman Pete Domenici and ranking Democrat, Senator Harry Reid, in the successful effort to restore $233 million to the Corps’ budget. This increase made possible many Northwest funding priorities that were not in the President’s budget.

“Dredging the Columbia River will help bring more jobs and economic opportunity to Southwest Washington,” Sen. Murray said. “I am proud to have helped to boost funding for this project, and I hope that the funds will remain after the bill goes to conference.”

Murray also secured $2 million for the Lower Columbia Estuary project to help restore salmon runs in the Columbia River Basin. These federal funds will go toward habitat restoration projects in the estuary which is an important ecosystem for all Basin salmon prior to migrating out to the ocean.

“Restoring salmon runs is a top Northwest priority that is critical to our region’s heritage and way of life,” Murray said. “We cannot abandon the progress that has been made toward restoring salmon to our rivers.”

At Murray’s request the bill also contains $500,000 for dredging the Port of Chinook. Senator Murray assured the Port would remain open during this fall and winter’s fishing season by convincing the Corps’ to reprogram current year funds to begin immediate dredging. The new funds will continue the work.

In a statement on the bill, Senator Murray drew attention to the failure of the President’s budget to provide funds for low-use, shallow draft ports such as the Ports of Chinook and Ilwaco. The Senate-passed bill restores funding for twenty-five similarly categorized ports and channels across the country.